LeBron James: Local Media Let the King Play Them for Fools

Justice HillCorrespondent IJuly 12, 2010

MIAMI - JULY 09:  LeBron James #6 of the Miami Heat talks during a press conference after a welcome party at American Airlines Arena on July 9, 2010 in Miami, Florida.  (Photo by Doug Benc/Getty Images)
Doug Benc/Getty Images


You probably missed this headline Sunday if you didn't live in Cleveland and subscribe to the city's major daily. The headline read: "We're fooled by a different James."

The words didn't get it straight. What the headline should have said was that the fawning over a star athlete let the city dream dreams it wasn't entitled to dream. It sat back and allowed media to play cozy with LeBron James, and they focused too much time on trying to get him to like them but never did get to know him.

Yet he was right there in front of them all -- the real LeBron James, the petty, self-possessed, and pathetic character they now know: the crass and shallow kid who rooted for the Yankees and the Cowboys and whose smile disarmed the media without letting any of them get close to him. Oh, they all thought they knew James. Some of them had covered him since high school, back at those AAU and Nike summer camps; they had hounded James' friends, trying to get inside his cloistered circle, wanting a glimpse that he was unwilling to give them.

So, as journalists and as men and women hired to chronicle the life of a famous athlete, they settled for less. They hero-worshiped, they forgot to do their jobs, and they held LeBron James and his entourage accountable for nothing, acquiescing to their whims. For five minutes of James' time, the media would have traded their homes, their cars, and their spouses for a story nobody else could get.  

Others enabled all of this, too.


Start with the Cavaliers themselves. Owner Dan Gilbert, the front office and coaches seemed as fearful of upsetting James as the local media were of offending his sensibilities. The PR staff, former general manager Danny Ferry and fired coach Mike Brown shielded James from anything he didn't want to be bothered with; they demanded nothing he wasn't willing to give, including his best effort.

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