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Wednesday, November 24, 2010

A Tale of Two Akron Guys in South Beach

Posted By on Wed, Nov 24, 2010 at 3:33 PM

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The St. Petersburg Times has a pretty enlightening article on the relationship between LeBron and Brian Windhorst, the former PD sports scribe who covered the disposed king during his local reign and now has moved to Florida to write about the Heat for ESPN.

The piece does a good job tethering together these two polar opposites and sketching their 12 year relationship. Oh yeah, and it drops the knowledge that Windhorst’s mom taught them both how to put a condom on a banana.

But they were born and raised on the west side of Akron. They went to the same high school. Brian's mother, a health teacher, taught both boys sex ed. Up until this fall, neither one of them had ever lived outside of Ohio. Their families still live there.

The beating heart of the story seems to be the suggestion that here are two guys from Ohio now living in South Beach, probably both wondering at some point whether or not this was a good idea. The best bit in the story hands down is the scene when Team LeBron, worried the superstar would field heat for knocking up his 19-year-old girlfriend, forced him to do press about it; Windhorst was the only reporter James would talk with.

The two of them stood under some bleachers. LeBron clearly was uncomfortable.

Let's not make this hard, Brian said. You're about to become a father. Tell me how you feel.

Excited, LeBron said, but also a little nervous.

Brian asked him what he was going to name his first son.

LeBron, LeBron said.

The story Brian wrote was about LeBron's excitement, and how he wanted to be a better dad than his own dad was for him.

After the birth of his son, ­LeBron returned to training camp, and all the other reporters asked him about it. They asked LeBron what he had named his son.

"Brian Windhorst James."

The reporters laughed. The odd response, Brian thought, was LeBron's way of thanking him for how he handled the situation.

You give this thing a quick read, you’ll walk away with the idea that Windhorst’s career has been invariably tied to LeBron’s. But underneath that autopilot assessment, the story is about the weird kind of intimacy that develops between reporter and subject, a personal info swap that inevitably brings two people close together, but ultimately is just another form of commerce, another part of the game.

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