Press Coverage: Iker & Sara, Jesse Jackson, Sheppard & ESPN Back, Back, Back To Reality

↵To the victors go the spoils, as the saying goes. The spoils for Spanish captain Iker Casillas, after leading his squad – and country – to its first-ever World Cup title, come in the shape of girlfriend (and media reporter) Sara Carbonero. Those are some pretty sweet spoils. ↵

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↵Carbonero was embedded behind Spain's goal during World Cup matches and was seen repeatedly celebrating after Spanish tallies on the FIFA world feed. Her position on the field was widely criticized by other members of the media, as it was considered somewhat of a conflict of interests. In fact, she was partly blamed for the Spanish team losing its first match of the World Cup. After the initial setback, Spain won the rest of its matches, so does Carbonero now deserve credit? Casillas thought so, telling her in an interview after the match on Sunday that he dedicated the win to his family … and her. Then he smacked one right on her lips on live TV. ↵

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↵Carbonero could only muster a "mama mia" after the smooch, which just makes the moment that much more perfect. We don't have this kind of situation in America – sideline reporters openly dating athletes. Sure, there are rumors all the time, but nothing as public as this. Here's hoping for more of it, frankly. I mean, come on. Wouldn't you have wanted to see LeBron James smack one on the lips of Jim Gray after his big decision? Eh, that probably just happened off camera somewhere. ↵

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↵Speaking of Jim Gray… ↵
↵There is some debate as to whether or not Gray was paid by LeBron James' marketing company for his infomercial last week. Darren Rovell of CNBC reported that ESPN did not pay Gray and that Gray's compensation came from LeBron's side of the production. Gray told Howard Kurtz of the Washington Post last week that he was not paid by LeBron and the CNBC report was "flat wrong" and "irresponsible." ↵

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↵⇥"I didn't take a penny from LeBron or any entity connected to him," Gray said in an interview Friday, responding to a CNBC story contending that a marketing organization set up by James paid Gray's fees and travel expenses. That report, Gray said, was "100 percent inaccurate, wrong, totally false" and "irresponsible. . . . I would never take a nickel from somebody I'm interviewing." ↵⇥

↵⇥Gray said he called Rovell, who maintained that he was unable to find a phone number to reach Gray before the piece was posted online. "I screamed at this guy like I've never screamed at anybody before," Gray said. ↵⇥

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↵Kurtz reported that Mike Wise (also of the Post) asked Gray on the radio last Thursday if he had lined up University of Phoenix as an advertiser for the LeBron special that – and this is important – Gray pitched to LeBron's people and helped facilitate. Gray told Wise he had no relationship with the school and "I'm not involved in any of those decisions." ↵

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↵The New York Post reported Saturday that a source told them not only that Gray was involved, but also that getting University of Phoenix on board may have saved his job with Westwood One: ↵

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↵⇥A source told The Post that Gray had helped save his job as host of Westwood One radio's pregame Monday Night Football show by personally soliciting ad sponsorship from the University of Phoenix. That cyber university's logo and donation of scholarships to the Boys and Girls Club of America were highlighted during Thursday's ESPN show. ↵
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↵It's unclear exactly how getting the school onto The LeBron Show on ESPN could help Gray save his job with Westwood One, but putting two and two together, one could speculate that we may be hearing a few University of Phoenix ads on the radio come Monday nights this fall. ↵

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↵Jesse Jackson Likens Dan Gilbert's Rant To Slavery, Prominent Black Columnists Disagree ↵
↵Jesse Jackson thinks Dan Gilbert's comic sans diatribe is racist, going so far as to say, "His feelings of betrayal personify a slave master mentality. He sees LeBron as a runaway slave. This is an owner employee relationship -- between business partners -- and LeBron honored his contract." ↵

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↵Jackson has kept himself relevant for decades by turning non-racial issues into racial issues, creating a fervor and watching the ensuing carnage. Jackson's message is rarely one of togetherness and unity and almost always creates more of a rift between black and white or black and fill-in-the-blank non-black group upon which Jackson focuses his attention-grabbing ire. His rants rarely serve any greater good other than to get Jackson more face time with the ruse of social change. ↵

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↵Yet the media eats it up. We love dynamic personalities talking about controversial issues. Nobody is more dynamic than Jackson, and nothing is more controversial than hopping in the middle of the LeBron James ego parade to make him sound like a sympathetic figure by saying that an NBA owner treated a player hell-bent on being the first BILLIONAIRE ATHLETE like a slave. ↵

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↵Jason Whitlock sees right through this and is, as he usually has been, the black voice of reason: ↵

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↵⇥Yes, this is an attention grab by Rev. Jackson. He heard about ESPN’s impressive ratings for “The Decision” and, like a mafia don, wants to wet his beak. Why let Jim Gray and ESPN executives have all the fun exploiting LeBron’s naivete? … ↵⇥

↵⇥Yep, it’s the card. LeBron James and his kiddie handlers screwed up, staging an image-damaging public-relations disaster, and now some African-Americans want to change the subject by changing the argument. ↵⇥

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↵⇥It’s stupid. Dan Gilbert’s rant was certainly immature, but it wasn’t remotely racist. ↵⇥

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↵Stephen A. Smith, another prominent black voice in sports media, disagrees with Jackson's words but understands his tone. ↵
↵⇥For the record, please let's not get things twisted. I do NOT think it was right for Jesse Jackson to bring up RACE. However, I DO BELIEVE his sentiments are shared by a lot of folks in the African-American community. ↵⇥

↵⇥What Dan Gilbert said about LeBron was incredibly 

uncomfortable to read. Lots of folks did not like it and took it exactly the way Rev. Jackson said -- even though "Run-Away Slave" was too 


harsh, for sure. But clearly, Gilbert came across as feeling "Entitled." Like LeBron OWED him something. ↵⇥

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↵⇥Lots of Black folks who leave 1 job for another know precisely what Rev. Jackson was alluding to. Period! Folks can act like they don't know what he was talking about. They can accuse him of invoking race all they want. But when you offend someone you don't get to dictate their reaction. You accept what you caused. ↵⇥

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↵I agree with Smith that you can't be offended for someone else, nor can you tell someone else when they can and can't be offended. It just so happened that while LeBron is in Miami celebrating his new mega-million-dollar contract, Jackson is all over the media invoking thoughts of slavery. Perhaps, in this case, Jackson is a wee bit more offended by this because nearly 10 million people watched LeBron's decision last week? That's a lot of eyes, and ears, now paying attention to him. ↵

↵Bob Sheppard, RIP ↵
↵Legendary public address announcer Bob Sheppard passed away this weekend at the age of 99. Sheppard's voice, often called the Voice of God, added a sense of class and distinction to Yankee Stadium that no other facility could replicate. He was part of Yankee Stadium, and continues to be part of the new Yankee legacy every time Derek Jeter comes to the plate. It's not often you notice the PA announcer, let alone look forward to hearing his voice. Sheppard was, without a doubt, the best. From the New York Times: ↵

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↵⇥From the last days of DiMaggio through the primes of Mantle, Berra, Jackson and Jeter, Sheppard’s precise, resonant, even Olympian elocution — he was sometimes called the Voice of God — greeted Yankees fans with the words, “Good afternoon, ladies and gentlemen, and welcome to Yankee Stadium.” ↵⇥

↵⇥“The Yankees and Bob Sheppard were a marriage made in heaven,” said [his son] Paul Sheppard, a 71-year-old financial adviser. “I know St. Peter will now recruit him. If you’re lucky enough to go to heaven, you’ll be greeted by a voice, saying: ‘Good afternoon, ladies and gentlemen. Welcome to heaven!’ ” ↵⇥

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↵⇥In an era of blaring stadium music, of public-address announcers styling themselves as entertainers and cheerleaders, Sheppard, a man with a passion for poetry and Shakespeare, shunned hyperbole. ↵⇥

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↵⇥“A public-address announcer should be clear, concise, correct,” he said. “He should not be colorful, cute or comic.” ↵⇥

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↵ESPN Goes From World Cup Brilliance to…The Home Run Derby ↵
↵I had the chance to talk with Bob Ley of ESPN last week who said: ↵

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↵⇥I've been with the company 31 years, and I've never been prouder to be part of a team than I have been for the last month. ↵
↵It showed. Martin Tyler took a moment following the World Cup finale on Sunday and told the American audience that it was a privilege to call the games for us. It was, in fact, our privilege to have such a wonderful production by the WWL – in my opinion, the best coverage of an event in the company's history. ↵

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↵Now that the World Cup is over, we get back, back, back to reality with the Home Run Derby. A made-for-TV event that's not all that made-for-TV and basically serves as a three-hour window for Chris Berman and Joe Morgan to do more of what they always do … talk. That's not to say the Derby won't be exciting, and there's something campy about Berman's call of a home run that still gets a bit of a chuckle every once in a while. But after watching a four-week event treated with such respect by Ley, Tyler, Chris Fowler, Mike Tirico, Ian Darke and a whole host of other announcers and analysts, it will be impossible to watch the spectacle tonight without that context. ↵

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↵So long, eloquence … welcome back, bombast. ↵

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This post originally appeared on the Sporting Blog. For more, see The Sporting Blog Archives.

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