I get it. Even as an admittedly passive observer of the NBA for the past four years (the ’06 finals and the Mavs’ first-round exit in ’07 killed my love for the league), I get it. LeBron James is a big freaking deal. Biggest free agent maybe ever. And I get that ESPN loves telling me about it ad nauseum. Almost as much as the network enjoyed stalking Brett Favre.
But they don’t need to. Sports fans don’t need an hour-long special tomorrow night to get amped up about where he’s going. After all, ESPN has spent every last minute since the NBA season ended stoking the hype fire on, well, every conceivable platform: SportsCenter, PTI and Around the Horn not enough for you? Luckily you’ve got ESPN News for that. Oh, don’t forget about ESPN.com and Twitter. And ESPN: The Magazine.
And they present all of this speculation and, for lack of the better word, bull shit as news, with the sole intent of keeping you, the die-hard sports fan informed and on the cutting edge. But people need to understand that ESPN stopped becoming a news organization a long time ago. Sure, they still break news and report on all the happenings around the sports world, but dollar signs and the entertainment side of its operation has become way more important.
Remember, ESPN stands for “Entertainment and Sports Programming Network.” The LeBron situation is a perfect example of how the journalistic and entertainment sides of ESPN conflict. As Jason Whitlock and the S-T’s Jen Engel pointed out on Twitter, ESPN has incentive NOT to report any actual news about LeBron, lest they lose all the ratings and revenue that this self-constructed drama is creating.
Things like this are nauseating: Adam Schefter, who is annoyingly always introduced as “NFL Insider Adam Schefter,” tweeted that Thursday will be “will be one of those ‘I remember where I was when I heard’ sports moments.'” Read the comments below the Big Lead post and you’ll see my opinion. It’s shameless and tacky self-promotion when the NFL guy is pumping up an event that doesn’t need pumping. I also think it’s highly entertaining that when you Google “Adam Schefter is…” the top results are “douche,” “tool” and “idiot.”
And, yeah, apparently all of the ad revenue from the “LeBron-aganza” is going to charity. That’s all fine and good LeBron, but if you want to do some good, how about you chop a few million off your soon-to-be max salary and give it away and spare us the hour-long LeBron love fest.
Actually, it really doesn’t matter because I won’t be watching.