The fallout of ESPN’s regrettable decision to air the LeBron James conflict of interest-fest last night continues.
CNBC’s Darren Rovell reports Friday that the man who dragged out James’ ESPN-branded ‘Decision’ through two commercial breaks, interviewer Jim Gray, was paid by an “entity” representing the interests of James and the production itself:
Gray’s travel and payment for “The Decision” show was being paid by the entity set up by Team LeBron and not by ESPN, as CNBC has learned.
Gray has since denied that he took money from James or his marketing company, LRMR - as reported by Bloomberg’s Michelle Steele on Twitter: Read more…
With ESPN handing over an hour of airtime to LeBron James tonight, ESPN’s Shelley Smith reported on the same network this afternoon that in advance of the James-ESPN production “fear has given way to a rising anger” among Clevelanders and “there could be violence tonight” throughout the city.
Smith added that Cleveland police have bolstered downtown patrols in anticipation of any violence that could erupt in response to events playing out on the James-ESPN show.
James apparently foresaw what Smith is now reporting, having hired extra police officers to guard his Bath, Ohio, mansion in just the past week. More recently, today Bath police blocked off the street where James lives in anticipation of the LeBron-ESPN show.
Hard to believe that there would be civil unrest in Cleveland if James announced he was leaving to join the Heat. But knowing the way James has handled the decision, including the ESPN show that was first formulated on June 6 by the James camp, it certainly wouldn’t surprise me.
In advance of the LeBron-ESPN show, the CLEVELAND LEADER news outlet has suggested a massive “LeBronfire” in which Clevelanders would burn their Cavaliers gear if James announces on ESPN his intention to depart the city.
Tom Withers, an ASSOCIATED PRESS Sports Writer based in Cleveland, tweeted Thursday afternoon from Cleveland: Read more…