ESPN removes story about LeBron’s party in Vegas

Basketball Player LeBron James hosts a night at Lavo on July 23, 2010 in Las Vegas, NV (Photo by DAP1 / Meet The Famous) Photo via Newscom

Arash Markazi attended a party ‘hosted’ by LeBron in Las Vegas and lived to tell the tale. Well, sort of. Shortly after the story was posted, the Worldwide Leader took it down.

Written by Arash Markazi of ESPN’s Los Angeles affiliate, the story recounted the author’s night out on the town with James and his entourage at the Tao nightclub at the Venetian hotel. While the majority of the piece, which is still online, contained several harmless vignettes such as finding James engaged in a dance off with Lamar Odom of the Los Angeles Lakers, a few parts cast the King in less than the best light.

According to Markazi, copious amounts of champagne and vodka flowed over the course of the evening, and scantily clad women – or in at least one case, nude women – cavorted around the player and his friends who did shots of tequila while waiters floating on wires serviced the table.

ESPN has issued a statement about the story:

“The story should have never been published,” wrote Josh Krulewitz of ESPN in a statement to SportsBusiness Daily. “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.”

You can read the entire story here. (Just click on the image and a bigger version should appear.)

I would describe it as detailed, honest and unflattering.

Update: SPORTSbyBROOKS has ESPN’s statement as well as a statement from Markazi.

“ESPN.com will not be posting the story in any form. We looked into the situation thoroughly and found that Arash did not properly identify himself as a reporter or clearly state his intentions to write a story. As a result, we are not comfortable with the content, even in an edited version, because of the manner in which the story was reported.

We’ve been discussing the situation with Arash and he completely understands. To be clear, the decisions to pull the prematurely published story and then not to run it were made completely by ESPN editorial staff without influence from any outside party.”

Markazi:

“I have been in conversations with ESPN.com’s editors and, upon their complete review, understand their decision not to run the story. It is important to note that I stand by the accuracy of the story in its entirety, but should have been clearer in representing my intent to write about the events I observed.”

Well, the story is out there, and it might get more attention now that it would have had ESPN kept it published, but such is the current state of media.

Markazi was operating in a bit of a grey area. He didn’t identify himself as a reporter who was going to write a story about the night, so he saw a certain side of LeBron that he otherwise wouldn’t have seen. Should journalists be required to identify themselves? If he had, he likely would have been denied access to the full evening. Of course, Markazi likely got access to the party in the first place because he is a reasonably well-known writer.

The bottom line is that if LeBron doesn’t want to look like an a-hole, then he probably shouldn’t act like an a-hole when in public.

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Chili’s responds to Steve Carell’s “Decision”

Don’t know what the hell, I’m talking about? Click here for the setup, watch the video, and hit the back button.

Here is Chili’s response, in Comic Sans font, of course.

Bryant Gumbel on LeBron’s ‘stench’

LeBron James talks to the media after The Miami Heat signed free agents LeBron James, Chris Bosh, and Dwyane Wade to 6 year contracts at the American Airlines Arena in Miami on July 9, 2010. UPI/Michael Bush Photo via Newscom

Waiting For Next Year has a transcript of Bryant Gumbel’s end-of-show editorial on HBO’s Real Sports:

Finally tonight, a few words about championship rings. Just when did they become the all-important barometer of who does or doesn’t count in sports? When did they supersede personal excellence or exemplary character as a standard of greatness?

I got to thinking about that the other night after the self-anointed chosen one, LeBron James, embarrassed himself as he tried to make his decision to seek rings in Miami sound like a search for the Holy Grail. It’s when he essentially admitted to placing a higher priority on winning than anything else.

LeBron’s decision is typical of our immediate gratification era, but it flies in the face of history. Even though he never won a title, Dan Marino is still the biggest hero in Florida. And in Boston, all those Celtics championships are dimmed by the unforgettable brilliance of Ted Williams, who never won anything. In Chicago, Gale Sayers and Dick Butkus have legendary status despite playing on losing teams. And even in the NBA, where guys seem obsessed with being viewed as ‘the man’, real men like Barkley, Ewing and Baylor are ringless, but revered.

Despite such evidence to the contrary, LeBron James seems to think he needs a ring to change his life and secure his legacy. Maybe he’ll get one, maybe he won’t, but it’s probable that no amount of rings will ever remove the stench he wallowed in last week. LeBron may yet find that in the court of public opinion, just as putting on a tux can’t make a guy a gentleman, winning a ring can’t make one truly a champion.

I wish when pundits spouted off about LeBron’s decision to leave Cleveland that they would say implicitly whether or not they have a problem with the decision itself or with the way the decision was made. Gumbel talks about “the stench he wallowed in last week,” so I can only assume that he’s talking about the controversy around “The Decision,” which most of us think crossed the line.

At the same time, he criticizes LeBron’s desire to win. Whether or not Gumbel gets it, a superstar has to win a title to cement his legacy. While Ewing, Malone, Barkley and Baylor are considered great players, there’s always the phrase “but they didn’t win a title” that comes at the end of any discussion about their relative greatness.

Would Grant Hill trade the classiness of his career for a ring? Only he can answer that question, and he’s a special case, so he might say no. But LeBron knows that if he stayed in Cleveland and failed to win a title, then his legacy would always have that asterisk.

Five, ten, twenty years down the line, I don’t know how much we’ll remember “The Decision” versus what LeBron and the rest of the Super Friends accomplish in Miami over the next six seasons. I’m sure the city of Cleveland will remember it vividly until the end of time, but if LeBron plays Magic to Wade’s Jordan and facilitates three or four titles in the next few seasons, the storyline won’t be about “The Decision,” but about where LeBron ranks amongst the league’s all-time greats.

Paul Rudd and Steve Carell spoof “The Decision” at the ESPYs

If you didn’t see this live last night at the ESPYs, check out Paul Rudd and Steve Carell spoof “The Decision” (LeBron’s one-hour special where he announced that he was going to the Heat).

“I used a magic 8-ball, I used a regular 8-ball, I asked Jeeves…”

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