Friday, July 9, 2010

VERITAS: FUMBLE - LEBRON FEELS THE HEAT

This week's perspective from Joe Chidley:

The best thing that can be said about the LeBron James saga is that the speculation over where he will be playing next season is over: he’s leaving the Cleveland Cavaliers for the Miami Heat (along with Toronto Raptor Chris Bosh, sad to say). But in the process of announcing that decision, the basketball phenom did his image and his legacy no favours. Instead of holding the standard presser where he thanks his fans and his old team and announces he’s leaving, James capped weeks of media hype by taking up an hour of airspace for a special ESPN show in which the only two important nuggets of information was that he was moving to South Beach. (New York Daily News columnist David Hinckley called the show “a tweet on steroids.”) Yes, the show earned bucks for Boys & Girls Clubs charities, so good on James for that. But that’ doesn’t make up for the fact that the ESPN maneuver was the first time fans in Cleveland and the Cavs’ executive heard about James’s decision (he had told the Heat before the broadcast). That’s a helluva way to find out – team owner Dan Gilbert called it an act of “cowardly betrayal,” and some Cavs fans burned James’ jersey in protest. Maybe those were overreactions, but they’re understandable ones. Sure, James got a PR hit and is the talk of the media now, but he’s achieved that coup at the expense of his personal brand. Instead of a gifted, hardworking and honest athlete, he now seems a guy who cares more about pumping his own celebrity than anything else. It didn’t have to be that way.

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