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,

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

scathing_lebron_mid.jpg5. "[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


  • stolidog says:

    America is doomed.

  • Snarkymark says:

    Hmm...well, I'm something of a sports fan (not really an NBA fan). I was surprised by the vitriol by ESPN this morning (Mike Greenberg was especially upset by James's "Decision"). I guess they would have been happier if this had been on Versus? The New York media in this list would have felt differently if LeBron had decided for the Knicks. (Dan Gilbert must think he's running a plantation rather than an NBA team.)

  • Bleezy says:

    Why in the hell did any of you haters even bother to watch The Decision in the first place. You obviously hated LeBron before the show yet boosted ESPN ratings by watching anyway! How foolish you sound! LeBron is laughing all the way to the bank and that's funny right there - I don't care who you are!

  • CiscoMan says:

    ESPN is one of my standby, wallpaper channels. I used to love that they took their journalism seriously, but not themselves. At some point, I don't really know when, that flipped around. I hope they give themselves the ESPY for Most Inane & Absurd Sports-Related Event.
    Speaking of inane and absurd... the ESPYs are coming!

  • Seriously, this deserves some kind of award. Maybe Bob Ley and Mike Tirico will go off and start their own network. And Jon Miller will drop by for baseball season. I'd like that.

  • I imagine the reason Lebron's handlers ultimately landed on The Decision as the name of their life-changing, breathlessly awaited, unprecedented landmark moment in sports programming (Did I cover all of that adequately, Stu Scott?) is because the best and most appropriate title had already been taken-- Despicable Me. That's how I'll be thinking of The King (of what now, exactly?) from now on. But I suppose they could at least rename the channel DESPN.

  • JayZ says:

    Don't hate the playa, hate the game.

  • dave99 says:

    Love that Deadspin took two of the top 4 spots, along with former editor Leitch coming in at number 1.

  • Like that's a bad thing?

  • How many people hate Lebron now, though?

  • Louis J. Asmo says:

    I admit I am a fool regarding my take on LeBron...for years I compared his basketball skills to his maturity and wisdom and actually thought he as some kind of genius.
    WOW!!! Could I have ever been more wrong???? This kid has just ruined his career....if he were a stock his owners would be contemplating jumping off the bridge. He is the NBA's all-time villain for many reasons now!!!
    Life has a habit of forcing all of us to learn the hard way...I mean making us crack our heads on concrete to truly learn a life alive, this kid has just cracked his head on concrete but I don't think he has even felt it YET!!!
    I almost pity him!!!
    Louis, born and raised in Columbus, Ohio with Jimmy Cleamons (10 NBA rings) my real basketball hero!!!

  • Chere Girsh says:

    britney spears just took her kids to disney land, and i read that she had the run of the place...that's not fair! i wish i had been her kids =)

  • calibration says:

    Why do they call it a 'Happy Meal' when it turns children into monsters? "Can we go to McDonalds? Can we? Well, after that can we?"

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