LeBron James’ ESPN Special Sets A New Standard…For Something

by | July 8, 2010 at 10:53 PM | TV News

LeBron James filled an hour of ESPN in announcing his decision to sign with the Miami Heat.  (ESPN)

LeBron James filled an hour of ESPN in announcing his decision to sign with the Miami Heat. (ESPN)


Let’s get right to the question that emerged during the hour-long special ESPN created around LeBron James‘ much-anticipated decision whether to stay or leave his team of seven years, the Cleveland Cavaliers. Who coordinated everyone’s outfits?

That person deserves props. The show’s subtext was green, as in the gazillions that James will get from his new team. However,I couldn’t help but notice all the purple. James was in purple and so were the 4,000 ESPN anchors and reporters who questioned him and deconstructed his decision afterward. The lighting was purple, too. Kudos. Everyone looked mah-velous in their varying shades. All that was missing was Prince. Oh, but that would have been so 1980s.

Now what was the show about again? Oh yeah – “The Decision,” as it was titled. Six teams had been vying for the considerable basketball skills of the 6 foot-eight inch, 260 pound megastar in the hopes of winning an NBA championship. For those who have been absent from planet Earth the past few hours, King James chose to join Dwayne Wade and Chris Bosh on the Miami Heat.

“In this fall, I’m going to take my talents to South Beach and join the Miami Heat,” he said. Asked why, he explained, “It’s going to give me the opportunity to win.” From that point on, it was all blah-blah-blah.

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ESPN aired their lucky get – James reportedly came to them with the idea of a TV special – on the same day the 2010 Emmy nominations were announced. Will this get nominated next year? No, but ESPN analyst Mark Jackson called the show “a beautiful thing” and said he made his kids stay up to watch it.

Was it a beautiful thing? Only if you enjoy self-indulgent hype, boring explanations, and the occasional, inadvertently humorous and utterly sincere reference to oneself in the third person. “[It] seemed as much like Grace Kelly choosing the Prince of Monaco as it did a sporting event, with gleeful suitor, heartbroken gentlemen callers and a trousseau large enough refloat the American economy,” wrote Bruce Dowbiggin in Toronto’s Globe and Mail.

I have a feeling a lot of people like this stuff. I have a feeling ratings will smash records the way James will lead the Heat to championships. I have a feeling that ESPN set a new standard for something – something yet to be determined. And so take note network executives: You could have done the same thing with Lindsay Lohan‘s recent court date. Even better. You could have televised Simon Cowell‘s decision to leave ‘American Idol‘. Imagine those ratings.

My favorite post-decision moment was when James was asked, “In the 34 minutes since your announcement, what text or phone call has influenced you the most?” James responded: “I haven’t even turned on my phone. But I’m going to call my mom.”

My favorite reaction?

Bosh, who tweeted, “Yeeeeeeeeeeeeeeaaaaaaaaaaaaaaaaaaaa!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!”

On the plus side, James borrowed a bit from ‘Extreme Makeover: Home Edition‘ by stipulating that proceeds from the sponsors go to the Boys and Girls Club of America. We’ll have to wait and see if James can turn himself into a true American idol. For right now, James is full of green, ESPN is dressed in purple, and poor Cleveland is black and blue. At least they still have Betty White.

What did you think of the show? Total drama? Total waste of time?