ESPN's LeBronathon Ruined the Future of Sports News on TV

Last night, millions of people were glued to their televisions, initially to see which NBA team/city basketball superstar LeBron James would pick to be his home for the next few years. But what ended up being the most compelling thing about "The Decision" was the egregious manner in which ESPN handled it. Perez Hilton has more shame. The LeBronathon broadcast will forever be known as the moment that ESPN completed its transition from sports network to what many of us already suspected it was: an entertainment channel.

ESPN touted the event as real-life drama and one of the most important news items of the year, which is a crock. That may be true for the gentleman with a basement full of inflatable Miami Heat chair (complete with built-in beer holders!), but even for diehard sports fanatics like myself, "The Decision" made me want to vomit—if only to remember what life was like before this game-changing event.

"The Decision" was part E! Television, part over-hyped mess, and all LeBron fellatio. But it also marked the a gloomy future for sports networks and officially rung in the era of athletes-as-celebrities. We've placed athletes on pedestals before, but ESPN knelt before King James and pledged an unholy allegiance to number 23/6—and expected us to do the same. We didn't.

Because LeBron came off as an egomaniac and ESPN looked like a lapdog. Sponsors were bought into the hype and jumped on board ("Decision Water!"). Halfway through the special, I was so disgusted by LeBron, ESPN, and Vitamin Water that I hoped LeBron would choose Miami just so I could hate him and his decision to widen the gap between the talent-rich and the talent-poor of the league and hurt the entire NBA (make no mistake, this is NOT good for the NBA). He did choose South Beach, letting the hopes of his home state dribble off his feet in the process, and diminished his brand that this special tried so hard to build up. The only way LeBron could have hurt his image more would be if he 360 Tomahawk jammed on a team of cancer-stricken orphans.

Sports is a big business, and ESPN has done its fair share to fuel that fire and over-saturate the media with its agenda (Brett Favre! Red Sox! Vuvuzelas!). Aside from a few good questions asked by Pardon the Interruption's Michael Wilbon, "The Decision" was little more than a collection of video highlights, back-patting, and ESPN belittling itself.

LeBron spent months agonizing about where to play. For us, "The Decision" was easy: Change the channel.


Follow TV.com writer and Clippers fan (seriously) Tim Surette on Twitter: @TimAtTVDotCom

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Im one of the biggest Miami Heat fan from when Tim Hardaway was breaking ankles; And i thought Lebron comming to miami would stun our growth... 4 teams i thought Lebron would hurt instead of help Lakers, okalhoma city boston and heat... Lebron is a set up man, and D wade is a closer, but the media gives the spot light to Lebron.....Lebron need to go where he can learn to be the closer.......I would love, luv, love so very much if the heat could give Orlando Lebron and give us Dwight Howard.. we would even throw big Z just to sweetin the deal...... PLEASE MIKE and TONY ASK THE TEAMS WOULD THEY CONSIDER THIS TRADE, IT WOULD BE GOOOOOD FOR BOTH SIDES....

contact me and let me know PLEASE!!! lbrown122@yahoo.com Lawrence Brown F/B
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The best comment was by Eric Stangel, the head writer and executive producer for the Letterman Show:
"I kept my 2 yr old up to watch LeBron James special. I wanted her to see the EXACT moment our society hit rock bottom."
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I quit watching ESPN. Chris Berman should have retired a looong time ago, his schtick is sooo 80's. One of the things about ESPN is the phoney way that the 'announcers' want you to think that they are personal 'friends' with sports celebs. Please call them by their real names, not Iciro or Cargo or whatever else their little minds decide. Lastly they want you to believe that they know what the players are talking about in a huddle or meeting on the mound.
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I didn't watch the event. I was excited to see where Le Bron would end up, but a prime time special was low class. I think he should play anywhere he likes and who ever doesn't like that should pick up a ball and dribble. In this reality driven society this tactic fits in, but that why I stay reality TV free!
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Anything written by Tim Surette is a much bigger waste of time than the LeBron-a-thon. Hack.
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not that i dont love that LeBron came to Miami, but that hour special was a COMPLETE WASTE OF TIME!!, the first 30 minutes were just predictions and old footage of him, which I DONT CARE!. They didnt need to televise it, all he had to do is tell 1 reporter, and tell them to publish, thats all that was needed. All though it was good that he donated the money to the kids.
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Huge waste of time for one of the largest wastes of space on the planet. Not only did he humilate himself and Cleveland...then he uses the Boys and Girls club to try and make up for his indecency. Dispecable human being and I hope the rest of his career goes for nothing... ESPN you definitely lost respect in my book!
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I thought it was ridiculous and I lost tons of respect for ESPN. Lebron isnt even the best player in the league he is arguably not even the best player on his new team but he gets an hour special. It was such a waste of time who really cares. I think ESPN hurt itself more than helped itself with this pointless special.
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It was all BS. I lost it all for James, glad I'm a hockey fan, still the best sport and the best guys!!!!
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Granted this entire scenario was a bit over the top and maybe ill-advised but really.. It's not good for the NBA? If anything it makes things far more interesting.
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I thought I'd just follow it on Twitter, but didn't understand a thing. What's the deal with the rIng?
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whoever watched this has way too much time on their hands. It's not like you got any info that you wouldn't get from a 12 second clip on SportsCentre (we spell it "re" up North, comes from the actual origin of the word which is French...) anyways, if you watched you wasted your time. You could tune in to the season opener next year to find out the same info lol.
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you can't really blame epsn for taking that bait. Oh and by the way the network's title is "Entertainment" Sports Programming Network. Its never actually been a sport purist network, thats why they created an awards show for itself
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Thats cause he didnt pick the Clippers right Tim? You cant blame the guy cause he wants to win a title, no matter which city he would have chosen i'm glad he left Cleveland for his own good. Last season (09-10) he asked for Stoudemire long before trade deadline ended. Mike Brown answered: J.J. Hickson is not leaving the Cavs (cause phx wanted hickson to be part of the deal). Now Lebron answers: We'll guess im the one who is going to leave.

Cavs didnt even tried to improve the team during the first days of this free agency period, WHAT ELSE CAN YOU EXPECT FROM A GUY WHOSE ONLY BIG ACHIEVEMENT LEFT ON THE GAME IS TO WIN A RING? TO STAY IN CLEVELAND AND END UP LIKE KARL MALONE AND JOHN STOCKTON DID? 15+ YEARS WITH THE SAME TEAM AND NOT EVEN 1 FREAGIN TITLE?



You say hes an egomaniac, atleast he made a 1hr special program and donated all the advertisement earnings for a noble cause, what have u done? i bet nothing... so cut the BS yet, you are just a bunch of crying kids cause he didnt pick the team you wanted him to pick. PD: Im not a Heat fan.
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Who really cares?
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I wasn't crazy about the narcissism on display either for that special but here's an interesting counter point: suppose the trio had decided that New York was going to be their destination....or the Clippers of LA. Would the outrage be just as loud? That said, to go on national TV in prime time and dismiss a city like that in a premeditated move isn't going to win LeBron new fans anywhere no matter what happens in Miami in the coming seasons.
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