The 9 Most Scathing Critical Responses to LeBron James: The Decision
Scathing critiques aren't just for M. Night Shyamalan anymore! Regardless of whether or not you follow, like or frankly detest sports, ESPN's Thursday night special LeBron James: The Decision made for some pretty audacious television. Which is to say, audaciously terrible. If you always thought watching The Bachelor amounted to a bankruptcy of taste, at least that process has some trashy entertainment value going for it. The ritualistic, commodified probing of James -- who announced his free-agency agreement with the Miami Heat -- couldn't have been more cynical or depressing if it tried.
But don't take my word for it. Let's hear it from the rest of the diverse, aggrieved class that still can't believe they just saw that.
9. "When the camera finally panned to interviewer Jim Gray, sitting across from James, Gray asked James about five minutes of frustrating questions. Gray should have asked the big question -- Where are you playing? -- right away. There's a fine-line between high drama and angering your audience, and ESPN crossed it. After James finally explained he was going to Miami, the rest of the show consisted of fairly bland interviews with the star [...] and eventually morphed into an unfortunate, if not unwatchable, infomercial for James' sponsors." -- Sean Gregory, Time Magazine
8. "The answer was not solicited by [ESPN reporter Chris] Broussard, who had done so much hard work, and deserved to be in that position. It was solicited by Jim Gray, the James crew's choice as The Decision's host and first interviewer, who spent six minutes asking 18 questions, including, 'Are you still a nail-biter?' before asking James the team of his future. Was this in the script? If so, shame on ESPN. If Gray winged it, shame on him." -- Richard Sandomir, NY Times
7. "I knew something was seriously out of kilter to begin with when LeBron's handlers, who certainly won't be arranging my funeral, decided in their arrogant wisdom to hold The Decision (their phraseology) in Greenwich, Connecticut, one of the richest towns in the United States. The presence of African-American kids was a nice touch. It was probably the biggest aggregation of blacks in Greenwich in history, and I was impressed by how quickly they had been shipped in. If LeBron had wanted to make an altruistic gesture, why not do it in one of a thousand places where kids really do need dreams? Bridgeport. New Haven. New York. Philadelphia. All worthy candidates. Greenwich? The only place possibly worse would have been the lawn of Don Imus's house in Westport." -- Buzz Bissinger, VanityFair.com
6. "I'm still not entirely sure how this isn't textbook checkbook journalism. In lieu of an hour's worth of primetime ads, ESPN allowed the James camp to donate the revenue to the Boys & Girls Clubs of America - a check he could've easily written himself without the pomp and circumstance of The Decision. (That check apparently went to Miami's W Hotel for a block of cabanas.) ESPN indirectly donated ad revenue to secure an exclusive with James. That's what this looks like to me." -- Dylan Stableford, TheWrap
5. "[Y]ou can watch his announcement here, and discuss your genuine human emotions over the situation. OR: we can discuss this photo taken yesterday (big day!) of Rachel Bilson pumping gas into her car (Toyota Prius, if you want to know). Where is SHE going? How do people feel about HER big move? You are also allowed to discuss how you feel about both situations if you want, of course, because I am sure they are equally provocative, emotional, and important." -- Gabe Delahaye, Videogum
4. "This is what passes now for honor among thieves: One bland and gutless fraud is not going to ask anything that might make another bland and gutless fraud uncomfortable. [...] For me, The Decision flew by; I wish LeBron had asked for two hours. I wanted to hear LeBron James refer to himself as Lebron James and a '25-year-old man' a few more times. I wanted more time to savor his bullshit about having a dream and talking to his mama in the morning. I wanted him to go another hour without a single mention of the woman he lives with, the mother of his two sons. In short, I wanted him to make as plain as possible what a grotesque and bloated punk he has become." -- Scott Raab, Deadspin
3. "This was announced with a several day, narcissistic, self-promotional build-up culminating with a national TV special of his 'decision' unlike anything ever 'witnessed' in the history of sports and probably the history of entertainment. [... We] simply don't deserve this kind of cowardly betrayal." -- Dan Gilbert, owner, Cleveland Cavaliers [NOTE: Points deducted for use of Comic Sans font and scare quotes]
2. "It doesn't matter where he opts to go. If he goes to Chicago, he's a c*cksucker. If he goes to Miami, he's a c*cksucker. Even if he goes back to Cleveland, he's a g*ddamn c*cksucker. He's a self-aggrandizing sack of sh*t, and ESPN is a bunch of p*ssy-whipped enablers for giving him a free hour of airtime tomorrow night and inevitably using 55 minutes of it to let Stu Scott give him a rimjob." -- Drew Magary, Deadspin [NOTE: Extra points for prophesying the revulsion of The Decision by a full day.]
1. "LeBron James, thanks to this debacle, will never be the same. (That he appears unable to understand why is the precise reason why.) ESPN, it feels, will never quite be the same: There were surely thousands of employees there who rubbed their eyes, aghast at what they were watching, guilty to be a part of it. The NBA, the hunger laid bare and the wound gaping for all to see, may never be the same. And the fear is that we won't be the same. The fear is that we've truly seen the ugly, dark heart of sports, and we won't be able to come back. It feels extremely stupid to be a sports fan. It feels pointless. None of this felt harmless tonight. And we allowed this to happen. Perhaps this is what we deserve. Perhaps this will be good for us, all of us. Let us all just hope everybody feels better in the morning. Some morning, someday." -- Will Leitch, New York Magazine