Did Nike muzzle LeBron at Team USA event?

Cleveland Cavaliers' LeBron James pauses during the second quarter in Game 5 of their NBA Eastern Conference playoff basketball series against the Boston Celtics in Cleveland, May 11, 2010. REUTERS/Aaron Josefczyk (UNITED STATES - Tags: SPORT BASKETBALL HEADSHOT)

Via the New York Post:

While a host of Redeem Team members were interviewed on the Radio City stage during yesterday’s Team USA scrimmage, LeCon became the noticeable exception. Nike did not want its World Basketball Festival to turn into a boo-fest.

“We wanted to stay away from that,” a Nike official said.

First of all, you have to love the Post writer, Marc Berman, calling him LeCon. It’s clear that the Knicks faithful — even the beat writers — are not going to let this summer’s snub go anytime soon.

Chad Ford comments on TrueHoop:

We shall see where this goes from here, but IMHO James being muzzled and kept off-camera is a development that will be dissected and debated ad nauseum by the sports business media, and deservedly so. When the biggest basketball star in Nike’s stable is front and center yet silent and relatively unseen on one of the world’s most famous stages, it certainly qualifies as a strange circumstance.

It’s certainly an odd thing for a company to bench his biggest name even if it meant he was going to get boo’ed by the Knick faithful. This might just be a symptom of a bigger problem, which Charles Barkley alluded to on Fanhouse.

“This thing that he’s taking mental notes, I’m bothered by him taking mental notes,” Barkley said. “He thinks he can’t get criticized. Every player who ever played the game has been criticized. I played against Michael Jordan. They said he couldn’t win in the beginning (of his career before later winning six titles). It’s the notion you can’t get criticized I have a problem with.”

While Barkley doesn’t have a huge problem with LeBron’s decision to play in Miami, he thought “The Decision” was a ‘punk move,’ but told Fanhouse that it was a poor choice of words.

“I should have never used that word,” said Barkley, sounding at first as if was an apology. “It was bull (bleep). Bull (bleep) is a better word.”

Gotta love Charles. The guy always speaks his mind.

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