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Tuesday, May 5, 2009

Sports Guy on Media Access, Featuring LeBron James

Posted By on Tue, May 5, 2009 at 10:39 AM

We know exactly what LeBron wants us to know. He scripts the story. Someone else writes it using his words. You could see that in all the MVP pieces from yesterday. I wasn't there but I imagine if I was and I had to write a column or a story on the occasion, it would have turned out much like Tom Withers' piece, Windhorst's piece, etc. (with the exception that it would have not been nearly as good.)

Let me summarize: LeBron drove past all his old haunts and houses in Akron on the way to the St. Vincent St. Mary gym, the place where he first became a phenom, to accept the MVP trophy.

That's not a bad thing or an indictment of those writers — in fact, I thoroughly enjoyed each take on the monumentous moment. It's just what's expected these days with almost everyone not named Ozzie Guillen. Athletes filter their own images. Say nothing. Do nothing. And LeBron is King in manufacturing and maintaining an image. Jack McCallum's column for SI, which praises LeBron for avoiding missteps on and off the court, is as much a tribute to LeBron the PR rep as LeBron the player.

Which brings us to the Sports Guy's latest column where he dissects the role the media play as an intermediary between the players and the public, and how that role has changed with Twitter or Facebook or blogs. His portion on LeBron:

If Jordan was the harbinger of lost access, LeBron ushered in the I'm-controlling-every- interaction-I-have-with-you era. We've been hearing from him since high school, and yet I can't remember reading a single memorable feature about the guy. We think we know him through his entertaining antics with teammates, only I don't remember one funny thing he's actually said. He talks of becoming a global icon, of becoming the Jay-Z of sports, which makes perfect sense because we don't know anything about Jay-Z, either.

Only 24, LeBron has already erected the perfect see-through wall between him and us: accessible and exclusive at the same time. I see him controlling every documentary, reality show and book to come. I see him communicating with common folk through his blog, Facebook, Skype or whatever innovation comes next. I see him earning an Oscar for LeBron Doin' Work. And if he's enjoying a juicy steak at the Scotch 'n Sirloin, I definitely see him letting us know with a tweet.

You know, I have no doubt that everything LeBron said and did yesterday was authentic — the gym, the hometown roots, the family, the friends, the teammates, the drive. I also have no doubt that he successfully kept everyone on the message he had determined from the beginning.

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