ESPN Posts Unfavorable LeBron James Story, then Pulls it

| by Alex Groberman

If there was any doubt the “World Wide Leader in Sports” was in LeBron James’ back pocket, there isn’t any more.

The Web was set ablaze today as word leaked that ESPN initially posted, then immediately pulled, a somewhat unflattering (but seemingly truthful) LeBron James profile story. The article, written by ESPNLosAngeles.com writer, Arash Markazi, painted James as someone who “relishes being the center of attention” while he and his friends do their best live-action performance of “Entourage” characters.

“The more you hang around James, the more you realize he’s still a child wrapped in a 6-foot-8, 250-pound frame,” Markazi wrote in the removed piece.

The article was initially posted at 9:40 a.m. eastern time, but got pulled almost immediately.

Markazi is a former Sports Illustrated reporter who was assigned the ESPNLosAngeles.com’s “Velvet Rope” blog. As someone with credibility amongst readers and athletes alike, Markazi's observation that James is a man-child as opposed to a groomed businessman carries a lot of weight.

ESPN’s decision to pull the article, though, may go down as one of the blatant displays of favoritism towards a particular the network has ever shown. Later in the day, ESPN issued the following statement on why it had pulled the article: “The story should have never been published. The draft was inadvertently put on the server before going through the usual editorial process. We are in the midst of looking into the matter.”

This is hardly the first time ESPN has shown bias towards James. The network’s own reporters and staff bashed the “World Wide Leader” recently when they hosted a special one-hour event devoted to James’ free agency decision. The event was a spectacle disguised a legitimate television special, with James being lobbed softball questions for nearly 15 minutes before he finally told the cameras that he was “taking his talents to South Beach.”

Meanwhile, today's article was extremely well written. It included a humerous bit about James and his friends complaining that they got a male waiter.

“I wish they’d have one of those girls with no panties do that instead of the guy,” one of them said as a waiter delivered another bottle of vodka.

Other gems in the article included:

-          James initially turning down giving a young lady with a memorable tattoo an autograph. But then, telling her to catch him later when he’s at the club if she really wants it.

-          That Dwyane Wade and Chris Paul are his best friends in the NBA (Sorry, Chris Bosh).

-          That James’ manager and personal errand boy, Maverick Carter, likes to pour large amounts of Grey Goose vodka on the floor.

-          James and Lakers forward, Lamar Odom, like to get down to the new west coast hit, “Teach Me How to Dougie” by Cali Swag District.

Luckily, several internet-savvy people were able to get a copy of the article prior to it being pulled, and it was posted on quite a few websites. Here is a copy of it, courtesy of the good people at SportsByBrooks.

The only question at this point should be: Is anyone even shocked by this type of behavior by ESPN anymore?