July-August: America Reacts, And LeBron James Goes To Las Vegas

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FEATURING (in order): The Onion, Arash Markazi, ESPN, Spencer Hall, Dan Le Betard, Henry Abbot, J.R. Moehringer

7/28/2010: After weeks of debate over their collective nickname, Lebron James, Chris Bosh, and Dwyane Wade announced yesterday that the newly formed all-star trio would call themselves the Three-Headed Shitstorm. "It was between the Three-Headed Shitstorm, Miami's Mighty Three-Way, Category 3 Hurricane Fuckface, and Super NBA Friends, which was LeBron's idea that nobody liked," Wade said during an interview with ESPN.

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7/28/2010: Bottle after bottle of "Ace of Spades" champagne is delivered to the table by a waiter flying down from above the dance floor like some overgrown Peter Pan on a wire. One time he’s dressed like a King, another time as Indiana Jones and another in a replica of James’ No. 6 Miami Heat jersey.

James, who can hardly see the flying figure through his tinted glasses, almost gets kicked in the head on the waiter’s last trip down. He looks at the girls around him and says, "I wish they’d have one of these girls with no panties do that instead of the guy."

Toward the end of the night, Boston Celtics forward Glen Davis walks past James’ party and looks at the scene up and down several times like a painting in a museum, soaking in the images of the go-go dancers, the "King" sign and the costumed man delivering bottles of champagne.

Davis shakes his head and walks on.

James dances on the couch and sings along with the music blaring from speakers all around him.

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7/28/2010: "The story should have never been published. The draft was inadvertently put on the server before going through the usual editorial process. We are in the midst of looking into the matter."

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7/29/2010: As bad as it is for ESPN, it's worse for the future of any coverage of the NBA as a whole. I know for a fact that Dwyane Wade's people will raise hell if you publish anything remotely unflattering about him (even if factual,) and have with large websites who--for reasons probably involving "editorial oversight"--pulled or edited the story. This petty middle school slambook ninnyhood only devolves into coverage becoming one of two things: 

a.) Sanitized gloss backing the creation of an endorsement-ready public image.

b.) Ad hominem dreck (see: anything Adrian Wojnarowski has written about LeBron James) when the columnist is shut out and denied access when they print something accurate. 

This is just about a story about a party, and an innocuous one at that. Even the most eye-popping detail in the story is, on further investigation, mundane: the nude ladies in bathtubs are standard at Tao, and not some Caligula touch added by LeBron for the occasion. But those nude ladies, like it or not, are part of the picture, and a writer's task is to capture an event in accurate words.

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8/1/2010: Let's be transparent, though. Objectivity is a lie, an illusion. All humans can do is aspire to it. We all have our biases. A journalism entity can't give off the scent it is being objective a subjective amount of the time, only when convenient, without harming its reputation, but you ought to know that my entire business is built atop a mountain of conflicts. All traditional journalists are partners with teams and leagues in some way. We eat their food and accept their free bags and bask in their glow and get paid to write and talk about their business.

ESPN partners with leagues while also questioning players, teams and leagues. Partnering to air games is an inherent conflict, but it's also what ESPN does best. Those games drive cable fees because you'll scream if your TV provider dumps ESPN. That gives ESPN pricing pressure, and these partnerships make ESPN a financial behemoth. And being on ESPN helps leagues, though football and baseball are trying to break free of reliance by creating their own networks.

This isn't just journalism, clean and unconflicted; it's the journalism business.

Remember, the ``E'' in ``ESPN,'' an ``E'' that comes before even the ``S'' in ``Sports,'' always stands for Entertainment. And it is, in every sense of the word, capitalized.

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8/3/2010: Writer Chuck Klosterman was fascinating on this topic in part one of his appearance on the B.S. Report. At one point he just says: "I feel kind of weird about being mad at LeBron for having a good life."

At another point, Bill Simmons says that James clearly doesn't understand "the life and death part" of sports.

Klosterman's reply is: "There is no life or death part, Bill. If you believe a sporting event is life or death, you might as well believe in unicorns."

And when Simmons points out some people believe in sports that way, Klosterman replies that some people believe in unicorns.

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9/1/2010: He can imagine, he says, playing for Cleveland again one day.

Did I hear him right? Cleveland?

"If there was an opportunity for me to return," he says, "and those fans welcome me back, that'd be a great story."

Cleveland…Ohio? Where fans at this very moment are burning his jerseys? Where fans are selling toilet paper made from his jerseys?

"Maybe the ones burning my jersey," he says, "were never LeBron fans anyway."

• James on Cavs owner Dan Gilbert: "I don't think he ever cared about LeBron. My mother always told me: 'You will see the light of people when they hit adversity. You'll get a good sense of their character.' Me and my family have seen the character of that man." He went on to say that Gilbert's post-Decision screed "made me feel more comfortable that I made the right decision."

• James on Charles Barkley, who's been hyper-critical of James's decision to share the limelight—and the scoring burden—with Dwyane Wade and Chris Bosh in Miami: "Charles was probably trying to be funny. It wasn't funny to me."

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