“The Decision:” Who Deserves Our Hatred?
In case you haven’t heard, tonight LeBron James will finally announce which team is lucky enough to see him through powder in the air before every game for the next 5 years or so. You’ve probably also heard that he will be announcing this decision during a 60 minute ESPN special entitled “The Decision.” I think we can all agree that it is completely absurd that the statement “I have decided to play for ____” will now be turned into 60 minutes of “analysis.” The question is, who deserves our burning hatred for putting this spectacle together. King James or ESPN? Let’s go to the scorer’s table:
This one seems to be a no brainer. After all you have an athlete who feels that his decision on where to play a game can only be made within the confines of a 60 minute special solely devoted to said decision. However, it may not be that easy. Only ESPN would believe that they could possibly turn a 30 second news clip into an hour long special. They must really believe that their band of talking heads will be able to spout useful knowledge on an off-season decision for a full hour. However, this still has to go to LeBron. I mean, forget the fact that a player who has won something (see Wade, Dwyane) does not get such a special, King James deserves one. Oh, and he will tell you who gets to interview him, thank you very much!!! (Jim Gray….wtf)
Update: LeBron also now apparently referring to himself as “King James.” He definitely wins this one
Douchebagginess (word? doubt it): Lebron 1, ESPN 0
2. Journalistic Integrity
If ego seemed like a no-brainer then this one definitely is. After all, “The King” is not a journalist, but this needs to be a category anyway because ESPN is showing zero journalistic integrity on this one. Reporters have been pathetically scrounging for inside information on the King’s decision for weeks now to the point where I want to stab anyone caught talking about LeBron on my television. But who cares about reporters, ESPN got a special!!! You think people at ESPN don’t know where LeBron is going as I’m writing this. Of course they do. Do you think they are going to tell you at the risk of spoiling their Thursday night ratings bonanza. Of course the fuck not.
Douchebagginess: LeBron 1, ESPN 1
3. Worse Fake Reason for Putting on this Trainwreck
Lebron’s business manager Maverick Carter (real name?):
“Due to the unprecedented attention and interest surrounding LeBron’s decision, we have decided to make this announcement on national television. By doing so we have generated funds that will be given to the Boys and Girls Clubs of America. LeBron has a longstanding commitment to giving back to the community, and has worked with the Boys and Girls Clubs in cities across the country.”
This is a joke. I won’t completely disagree that the attention and interest surrounding LeBron’s decision has been unprecedented. Of course, King James has done everything within his power to pour gas on that flame. Oh, and donating funds to a charity does not make up for the pure egotism that goes into demanding a hour special dedicated to the greatness of yourself.
ESPN’s explanation for sacrificing all journalistic integrity and ceding total control of The Decision to LeBron:
“Times change and needs change and people’s desires change and other parameters are put on things. We ultimately had a decision to make. This event could have ended up on the internet. It could have ended up on another network. This event was going to end up somewhere, so we had a decision to make as a corporation and a news entity. Are we comfortable with the parameters that have been laid out?”
It’s absurd that ESPN is allowing The King to have control over everything from the ads to the interviewer. However, I can’t totally kill them for their other rationalizations. Once LeBron made the decision that his ego must be stroked from 9-10 pm tonight, this thing was going to air somewhere. If ESPN had to sell all credibility, then so be it.
Douchebagginess: LeBron 2, ESPN 1
4. More Likely to Recover from this Debacle
This one is close. Obviously, ESPN won’t really need to “recover.” They are going to do huge ratings and tomorrow every American male will still flip by the channel at least once throughout the course of the day, but there is something larger at work here. ESPN has been losing credibility for some time now. Remember when MTV began shifting away from being a network about music to a network about itself. Everything that happened on MTV was meant to promote something else on MTV and the music was secondary. This eventually led to the travesty we have now. Well, ESPN has been on this road for a while. It’s own Ombudsman wrote as much back in 2008. The Decision is just another giant leap in that direction. It’s not about sports news, or really sports. It’s about a few ESPN employees sitting around blowing themselves and LeBron for an hour.
That’s why I think ESPN takes this one easily. LeBron will recover. Sure, he’s much less likable today than he was just a few days ago, but he’s an athlete. Aren’t we pretty sure that 90% of them are assholes to begin with? Really think LeBron would stop and chat with you on the street. Hell no. But if he comes to the Knicks and wins a few games next season, then I’m not really going to remember that he had an hour long special on some random Thursday night.
Douchebagginess: LeBron 2, ESPN 2
Oh no, we have a tie!! Maybe in cases like this, that’s exactly how it should be. Douchebag athlete in one corner, douchebag television network in the other. In reality, sports fans or humans in general are the real losers when these things happen. No one other than Dick Vitale thinks sports are just about winning and fun anymore, and disasters like The Decision only further reinforce the idea that athletes want their egos stroked and the corporations want money, and the fans are just here to lap it all up. Well get your tongues out, 9 pm is only a few hours away.