After "The Decision", ESPN Spends the Next Day Defending LeBron James

Bryan FlynnAnalyst IJuly 9, 2010

BOSTON - MAY 13:  LeBron James #23 of the Cleveland Cavaliers prepares to shoot a free throw in the fourth quarter against the Boston Celtics during Game Six of the Eastern Conference Semifinals of the 2010 NBA playoffs at TD Garden on May 13, 2010 in Boston, Massachusetts. The Celtics defeated the Cavaliers 94-85.  NOTE TO USER: User Expressly Acknowledges and agrees that, by downloading and or using this photograph, User is consenting to the terms and conditions of the Getty Images License Agreement.  (Photo by Elsa/Getty Images)
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It is nearly noon in the central time zone of the United States and one thing is clear. ESPN, after their show with LeBron James, is doing everything they can to defend him.

After deciding to give in to LeBron and air his decision on a one hour special called “The Decision," ESPN anticipated the backlash against LeBron. The network already having made a deal with the devil has decided to keep backing the former “King” of Cleveland.

Even shortly after LeBron’s special, ESPN was quick to point out how James is taking less money to go to the Miami Heat, and the only way James could win his long coveted title was to leave the Cavaliers and go to Miami or the Chicago Bulls.

ESPN was even quicker to nearly condemn the open letter by Cleveland Cavaliers owner Dan Gilbert.

Amazing how if this was Marc Cuban that ESPN would have applauded the move to rip a player who held the organization hostage for two years. Instead, due to Gilbert and the Cavaliers, he becomes small and petty, but LeBron was doing what was best for him.

One ESPN show that has been carrying the "LeBron is still a great guy" banner has been the Colin Cowherd show. They have been ripping Gilbert for most of the three hour show.

Two points of hypocrisy have already been made on the Colin Cowherd show. The first is that it is alright for LeBron to head to South Beach in Miami, but it is wrong for the Yankees to acquire Cliff Lee from the Seattle Mariners.

Secondly, on the Colin Cowherd Show they tried to say what a great owner is, by invoking the name of Atlanta Falcons owner Arthur Blank. Personally, I have no problem with Blank, but saying he is not petty totally overlooks the whole Michael Vick issue.

After Vick was arrested and convicted, the Falcons first of all turned their back on Vick and then sued him for $37 million of his 2004 signing bonus. Shortly after he was reinstated into the NFL, the Falcons cut Vick.

The only reason they were even keeping Vick on the roster was because of salary cap issues. The Falcons did end up winning a judgment against Vick for nearly $20 million of that $37 million signing bonus.

Talk about being a petty owner and turning your back on a player. LeBron just jumped cities, but as the whole world was turning on Vick, the Falcons and Blank could not find ways quick enough to distance themselves from Vick.

But in the eyes of ESPN radio host Colin Cowherd, Blank is the way a sports owner is supposed to act. I am not saying what Vick did by fighting dogs is anywhere near comparable to what LeBron did by leaving as a free agent.

What I am saying is that owners turn petty on players who have perceived to have hurt them or their team’s brand. Blank was just as quick to turn on Vick as Gilbert was to turn on LeBron.

The only difference was most of the people in the country had turned on Vick because of dog fighting. LeBron just alienated a whole state and a few individuals around the country.

ESPN is trying to find every excuse possible to defend any backlash against LeBron. It is amazing how a guy with as many NBA titles as me (LeBron and I both have zero rings for those keeping track at home) gets this kind of treatment from the NBA.

When ESPN was kissing the butt of Michael Jordan and Kobe Bryant, even people who hated one or both players could justify that commentary because that is what you get when you win championships. But for ESPN to pucker up to a guy who has won absolutely nothing is amazing.

Stuart Scott is normally the one ESPN guy you can count on to defend every NBA player. But after airing the one hour special the ESPN brass must have decided they had to rally around a bad choice and make it worse.

All over ESPN they have tried to play off the fact that LeBron tried to get Chris Bosh to join him in Cleveland. There is no way anyone could convince me that if James had said he was staying in Cleveland that Dwayne Wade or Chris Bosh would not have followed him there.

Instead these three players have decided on going to Miami and only used misinformation to make it seem like they would do anything else. LeBron has to take the most heat for forcing his special down the throat of America.

What makes it worse is that LeBron tried to show that he was a good guy with the charitable contributions at the end of the special.

It screamed look at me, I am a good guy. Sure, I ripped your heart out Cleveland and Ohio, but look I give to kids.

After such a clueless interview in which LeBron never tried to say he was sorry to the fans of Cleveland or the fans all over Ohio. Instead he made this crazy comment about if the Cavaliers had let him go, his family would never burn down the organization after he learned they were burning his jersey.

Is LeBron that out of touch that Cleveland would have ever let him go before he retired?

Michael Jordan left the Bulls, but only after the ownership broke up a championship team. Chicago fans hated the Bulls ownership for breaking up the team, that most believed in, at least a year too early. One player who will never have the "greatness" they are talking about will be Shaquille O’Neal who jumped ship in Orlando much like LeBron is doing with Cleveland.

O’Neal played in the NBA Finals with the Magic, getting swept by the Houston Rockets, who were making use of no Jordan to win two titles. LeBron mirrors O’Neal since he was also swept in his only title appearance against the San Antonio Spurs.

O’Neal then became the NBA’s title mercenary going to the Los Angeles Lakers and winning three titles and then jumping ship again to Miami to win one title. He even tried to do the same thing in Cleveland this season declaring that he was in Cleveland to get "The King" a ring.

James just became the O’Neal of this generation in the NBA. There is no way that he can say he is the guy since he could not win a title on his own.

One final thing ESPN has to stop doing while defending LeBron is saying the Heat is the “king’s” team. For it to be the “king’s” team, the other big named players would have had to come to LeBron and not the other way around.

The Miami Heat, no matter how bad ESPN hates it, is Dwayne Wade’s team. LeBron and Bosh will play Robin to Wade’s Batman.

To be fair, not all the ESPN talking heads are defending LeBron. Skip Bayless and Bill Simmons have not completely defended James. Bayless has never been a LeBron fan calling him “Prince” James or LeBrick.

Simmons it seems does not mind that LeBron went to Miami, but the way he did it was wrong. I personally have no problem with James leaving the Cavaliers.

The problem I do have is ESPN and other media outlets making James out to be the greatest player in NBA history when he has done nothing. Now that James has joined Miami, he is more Scottie Pippen than Michael Jordan.

There is nothing wrong with being Pippen, but LeBron wants to be Jordan. This move to Miami makes sure that he will never be close to Jordan or Kobe Bryant.

After all is said and done, most average sports fans will forget Pippen, argue over if Kobe or Jordan was the best ever, and say LeBron was a nice complement to D-Wade.

Bosh will be like Pippen and will be forgotten forever. So please ESPN stop defending LeBron’s hour long special, since in eight short days he killed his brand.

Besides ESPN, if LeBron needs protection, he now has Wade and Bosh to keep his feelings from getting hurt.