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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LeBron proves he still needs a lot of work on his jumper [video]

Why LeBron is spending his summer heaving up bricks at a Sandusky, Ohio amusement park is beyond me, but here he is doing just that…

LeBron finally thanks Cleveland

ESPN has the details. It’s an AP report, so I don’t want to quote any text here. Suffice it to say, at a charity event, LeBron went out of his way to thank Cleveland after drawing criticism for taking out a full page ad to thank his hometown of Akron.

LeBron thanks his fans in Akron (not Cleveland)

Per WCPO…

James took out a full-page advertisement in Tuesday’s Akron Beacon Journal, thanking fans in Akron and saying that the city will always be his home. The letter made no mention of Cleveland, or Cavaliers fans.

“For all my life, I have lived in Akron, and for that, I am truly a lucky man,” the letter read. “It was here where I first learned how to play basketball, and where I met the people who would become my lifelong friends and mentors. Their guidance, encouragement and support will always be with me.”

The ad appears on the back of the paper’s front section, and it comes a few days before James’ annual bike-a-thon in Akron, which gives hundreds of bikes to needy children in the city. Some had speculated that the event might be cancelled after LeBron’s decision to leave for Miami, but LeBron chose to continue with the bike-a-thon, although it has been scaled back because of the city’s budget woes.

Damage control…

I do believe it is important to LeBron that he repair his relationship with his hometown and that he doesn’t hold any such allegiance with the city of Cleveland. Akron has a population of 217,074 and is 39 miles south of Cleveland, so it’s a separate city in its own right. LeBron’s hope is that Akron won’t completely disown its prodigal son, and I doubt it will.

Like I said, damage control.

“Z” says goodbye to Cleveland

EAST RUTHERFORD, NJ - MAY 18:  Zydrunas Ilgauskas #11 of the Cleveland Cavaliers reacts to a play against the New Jersey Nets during Game Six of the Eastern Conference Semifinals during the 2007 NBA Playoffs on May 18, 2007 at the Continental Airlines Arena in the Meadowlands in East Rutherford, New Jersey. NOTE TO USER: User expressly acknowledges and agrees that, by downloading and or using this photograph, User is consenting to the terms and conditions of the Getty Images License Agreement.  (Photo by Al Bello/Getty Images)

I have a feeling this will go over better than “The Decision” did…

The only thing he did wrong was not use Comic Sans for the font.

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