Can you really be surprised that the company who relentlessly flogged the “LeBron’s a free agent in 2010 OMG!!!” story for the past three years, aired LeBron’s Decision, and created special Heat Index page to follow LeBron’s new team would take a passing shot at the Cavaliers while promoting the upcoming season:
Does this happen to any other city? ESPN and Marvel team up to promote the 2010-11 season and they use one of their ads to disparage one of the NBA’s 30 teams. I don’t remember any baseball promos cracking on the Pirates or NFL spots ripping the Lions, but I could be mistaken.
It’s a twist on Marvel’s iconic moment from a Spider-Man issue published in 1967 when Peter Parker quits being a super hero and leaves his alter ego behind.
But Cavs season ticket-holder Brian Barney, a downtown ad executive who saw the images online, was upset at what he considered a cheap shot.
“It’s belittling,” he said. “It seems mean-spirited.”
Especially after ESPN’s burn this summer. The network staged James’ prime-time revelation that the Akron native and two-time MVP was bolting for Miami, known as “The Decision.”
The Cavs are the only team in the preview issue not illustrated by an image of a current player or owner.
Gary Belsky, ESPN the Magazine’s editor in chief, said his staff was sympathetic to Cavs fans, but when ESPN writers and editors presented story lines for the season to Marvel artists, they decided this was the way to tell it.
“Honestly,” he said, “we talked a lot about that and we didn’t see it as kicking the city and Cavs fans while they’re down.”
The thing that gets me is the fact that it’s such a lazy move. This required no thought at all. Instead of looking for positives in this Cavs team (plucky underdogs rejected by the MVP!) or simply an interesting angle (new coach!), they took the easy way out and went with “HARDY HAR, LeBron left!”
But this is really par for the course. ESPN’s most popular columnist, Bill Simmons, ranked the Cavs last of teams he’d like to see play and also went with the easy joke rather than anything substantive:
You knew it was coming. Just remember, Cleveland: It could be worse. You could be Seattle.
Here’s the thing with Simmons’s (repeated) Seattle cracks. Cleveland lost the Browns. The Cleveland Fucking Browns left. Then the old Browns won the Super Bowl and we’re stuck rooting the second worst team in the NFL (thanks, Detroit!). I’m pretty sure Cleveland was more upset losing the Browns than Seattle was losing the Sonics. And sure, it’s not like Seattle has a basketball team, but we’re stuck rooting for basically the Clippers of the NFL. We’ve been Seattle.
Anyways, as far as cracks on Cleveland go, “The Unamazing Cavaliers” is fairly tame. This is nothing. If you’re surprised and/or upset by this, you obviously haven’t been paying attention over the past five/ten/twenty years. “The Unamazing Cavaliers” is uninspired and lazy.
Which really about sums up most of ESPN, no?