After a day at the Nike-sponsored LeBron James Skills Academy, two cameramen working that day kept taping some pickup games when they shouldn't have been. As a result they had their footage confiscated, and they felt a little embarrassed about it.
Wait, you didn't hear about this? It was all over the … oh, that's probably not how you heard the story. Let me tell it how everyone else is phrasing it:
LeBron James had his manhood ripped into Vagisil-coated confetti after Xavier University basketball player Jordan Crawford posterized the King of Cleveland
(at his own event!). Nike found two guys who taped the whole thing, pinned them down, and stole their videotapes at knifepoint. They were then whisked out of the gym via a trapdoor that Nike had installed for this very occasion.
The accomplished Cleveland Cavaliers star has been a rather easy target as of late, although in all fairness, he kind of brought it upon himself by the way he handled that Eastern Conference finals loss to the Orlando Magic last month by not shaking his opponents' hands or talking to the media afterward. This video pulling event just fits right into the persona of a kicking, screaming superstar that wants and gets his way.
The cameraman, Ryan Miller, stated in a radio interview that there was no problem until the dunk, and all but insinuated that Nike was trying to hide the fact that their signature basketball pitchman has moments of imperfection. From what I interpret the rules to be, interviews and filming are perfectly fine during the scheduled events of the basketball camp, but not for the pickup games, when amateur players are interspersed with professionals at a corporate-backed event.
Miller said in the interview his theory that Nike didn't want anyone to see him play poorly in those games. Now the media's hook has morphed into, "Nike wanted to hide the dunk and protect the tantrum-throwing LeBron James." Right from the onset, it's a bullshit theory. According to Miller in the interview, the confrontation came not right after the dunk, or even after the end of that game, but after the end of a whole another game featuring James. If they wanted to gank the tape for that, they'd have jumped the video guys a whole lot sooner, perhaps murdering the cameramen and making it look like an accident. (They're Nike. They's all paw'rful 'n stuff.)
There was certainly some kind of miscommunication between Ryan Miller and Nike, but to go the extra mile and have every reputable journalist act like an unscrupulous blogger by suggesting a coverup is extremely convenient and really draws in an audience, especially on a July weekday in which there's nothing else marquee to talk about in basketball.
Will anyone get in trouble? Hell no! Everyone saved their speculatin' asses by phrasing it as a question. "WAS it a coverup? Oh, it wasn't? Well, we sure had fun finding out!"
(Photo credit: Nike Basketball)