I have tried to ignore this story, though it’s everywhere and from every angle imaginable. The rest of the media can continue to obssess on where he chose to play basketball and why, and all the ramifications. I just want to mention a few assorted things I noticed that got less attention.
That ESPN extravaganza and all the hype surrounding it was so over the top, I tuned out. But then heard that James arranged to have the proceeds from the commercial event go to benefit Boys and Girls Clubs of America. Which was considerable.
In a plan initiated and unveiled by James, all proceeds from ads sold for the broadcast – expected to be between $2 million and $2.5 million – will be donated to the Boys and Girls Clubs of America (BGCA). Several minutes later, one of the show’s sponsors, the University of Phoenix, announced it would make a separate donation – five full-tuition scholarships – to the organization.
About an hour before the broadcast began, the University of Phoenix also donated four of its scheduled ad spots to the Boys and Girls Clubs, so BGCA could air its own advertisements, says Frank Sanchez, vice president of sports, entertainment, and alumni relations for the nonprofit youth organization. BGCA would not have been able to air a commercial during the show otherwise, he says. The group does not pay for its own advertising; all ad spots are donated.
“We cannot be thankful enough for LeBron and the sponsors,” he said in a phone interview Friday. “As a fundraising opportunity, it was one of our most significant contributions, and it all happened within one hour.”
Nice. But something else happened in that hour, or the moment ‘The Decision’ was announced, besides all the collective groans and gripes in all the cities with contending teams and hopeful fans. And I noticed it way down in this story, as a passing sort of afterthought by the writer covering James’ big embrace of Miami.
Backlash lingered, not only from James’s choice of teams, but also from his delivery — on network television — after the Cavaliers fell to equal footing with five other franchises trying to woo James. At times, James referred to himself in the third person and was criticized for not having the courtesy of calling the Cavaliers owner Dan Gilbert beforehand to alert him of his decision.
Now that’s not nice. Maybe the business decision was that to tell anyone outside his innermost circle would enable someone to pre-empt and upstage the dramatic ESPN show in prime time that did benefit all those children. But he left Cleveland, his hometown and longtime team, and even the Cavs owner had to watch ‘The Decision’ with the same suspense as anyone else to learn whether it would be his team? Ouch. James is a rich man and a generous man, but he made a poor decision there, I think…
The only reason I’m giving this any mention is that in the larger stories that dominate our popular culture, for better or worse, there’s always something to be learned about both.
Here’s another takeaway, for the better. LeBron is close to his mother, who is at every game.
And after all the hype and drama of ESPN’s televised extravaganza was over Thursday night, the last question the studio anchor asked him was…now that it’s out there and media hype will continue and reaction is pouring in from all over the country, what are you going to do next?
He thought for a moment, then said he wanted to call his Mom, check in on her. First things first.