ESPN’s Markazi: ‘97 Story Spiked By School Paper

Last week ESPN pulled a story from its internet website server written by staff reporter Arash Markazi that chronicled a night out in Vegas with LeBron James and his entourage.

Arash Markazi had ESPN and High School sports stories spiked

ESPN Editor-in-Chief Rob King later explained that the story was spiked because, “Arash did not properly identify himself as a reporter or clearly state his intentions to write a story.”

The facts of the story, which Markazi stood behind, were never disputed by ESPN or James.

On Nov. 8, 1997, Eric Sondheimer of the LOS ANGELES TIMES reported on a controversy involving the sports editor of the Notre Dame (Sherman Oaks, CA) High School student newspaper. (The Times story can now be found archived in the newspaper’s “Freedom of Speech” collection.)

When Notre Dame High’s top-ranked football team lost back-to-back games last month, the sports editor of the school newspaper decided to write a commentary examining the Knights’ future. The team could be headed for difficult times, he argued, when it moves to a tougher league next year.

The story was never published.

The school newspaper advisor, Helen Chen, said she made the decision to hold the story after pressure from Principal Stephanie Connelly and football Coach Kevin Rooney, who said it would have hurt team morale after two straight losses.

“They wanted us to wait until the football season ended,” Chen said. “It was really hard for us. They’re [the students] supposed to be learning what true journalism is about.”

Rooney said the story, written by Notre Dame student Arash Markazi, was completely accurate but he did not like its timing.

“I felt it would be in the best interest of the school not to print it,” Rooney said.

Sound familiar?

Markazi was quoted in the ‘97 L.A. Times story:

“I worked hard on the story and before we went to press, they gave a copy to Connelly and Rooney, and they didn’t like it very much. Most of the players on the team read my column and it might have affected their confidence next year going to Division I.”

Newspaper editor Chen said she pulled the story, “out of respect for (Coach) Rooney. My concern (though) is if there’s some kind of major controversy, we’re going to be told we can’t do a story.

So what exactly did Markazi, who was a sophomore at Notre Dame High at the time, write about the football team that caused such “major controversy“?

I made some calls this morning here in Los Angeles and found out. Read more…

The Real Reason ESPN Spiked LeBron-Vegas Story

The real reason ESPN spiked the LeBron James-Vegas story by ESPN reporter Arash Markazi had nothing to do with anything Markazi wrote about James last weekend.

ESPN reported on unathenticated Jerry Jones video

(ESPN didn’t directly authenticate Jones video before airing it)

Last April, in a span of less than a week, ESPN repeatedly reported on two stories infinitely more embarrassing to high profile sports figures. But there’s one key difference between those two ESPN-aired stories and the LeBron-Vegas piece that was pulled.  A difference which explains why ESPN was so quick to axe Markazi’s work.

One of those embarrassing stories ESPN was willing to cover involved a drunk Jerry Jones being secretly videotaped at a bar by a person who, to this day, was never identified. The other story involved private photos of Josh Hamilton taken at a bar that were never intended for media dissemination. Read more…

ESPN Writer: Intentions ‘Should’ve Been Clearer’

ESPN announced today that the story of LeBron James acting the fool in Vegas last Saturday night by ESPN Reporter Arash Markazi will not be reposted.

LeBron Vegas story spiked

The story, which ESPN claimed today was available only via web searches and never available for original viewing at ESPNLA.com and ESPN.com, was removed from a company web server a few hours after it was published Wednesday morning.

ESPN released statements today from Markazi and Rob King, Vice President & Editor-in-Chief, ESPN Digital Media. Read more…

ESPN Mulls What To Do With Spiked LeBron Story

This morning ESPNLA.com published a fascinating ‘night-in-the-life’ piece on LeBron James by ESPN staff writer Arash Markazi. Markazi was apparently granted full access to James and his entourage last Saturday night in Vegas at Tao nightclub.

LeBron Vegas story spiked

Markazi is a longtime reporter, formerly of Sports Illustrated, charged with writing ESPNLA.com’s “Velvet Rope” blog. He’s a veteran of the Vegas party scene and is the last person on ESPNLA.com’s staff who would set out to author a hit piece on anyone.

So it was stunning to read Markazi’s reporting of the evening’s proceedings. Proceedings in which James and his manager Maverick Carter come off as immature, cliched posers.

Equally stunning was ESPN’s apparent decision to pull the piece from the ESPNLA.com website just hours after it was posted. Though the story was not gone from the ESPN site until after it had been reprinted on several message boards and sports blogs. Read more…

Ron Artest Books Own Hottie For SI Photo Shoot

Great find by our Adam Jacobi today on Twitter:

Ron Artest books his own SI photo shoot, replete with his own hottie

SI’s Arash Markazi posted a sneak of a photo shoot of Ron Artest as part of an upcoming piece he’s working on about the loco Laker. Best part: Artest set up the shoot, and booked the “model”! Markazi’s piece will drop on SI.com later this week.

Kids, the Lakers are going to fun this year.

Glad I Edged My Driveway Instead Of Doing ESPYs

I’m in L.A. so I half-considered going to the ESPYs last night. SPORTS ILLUSTRATED’s Arash Markazi, with this Tweet, made me glad I didn’t.

ESPN had people clap and fake laugh because of bad jokes

Tonight tho I will be @ legit event here in Lipstick City. I’ll be posted in MannyWood for #99’s return and Tweeting about it all night in real time from the Left Field bleachers. You can follow my Tweets and photo posts here.

I’ll have more stuff from the game on SbB Friday, so long as my Kevlar vest isn’t compromised in the postgame parking lot.

Space Age Technology Kills Montana’s Secret Life

Remember the report that Joe Montana bugged out after having his photo snapped at a Super Bowl party?

Joe Montana

Arash Markazi of SPORTS ILLUSTRATED, in his breakdown of every single Super Bowl party, has this followup from the “Madden Bowl” party last week:

“Joe Montana, Dwight Clark and Chris Berman sitting in a VIP booth with a bevy of beauties surrounding them. Montana seem resigned to the possibility that images of his night on the town might end up online. “It seems like everyone has a camera on these,” he said picking up his cell phone. “You can’t do anything privately anymore.”

Don’t suppose Berman pal’d along with Montana and Clark for any particular reason, eh?

Heidi Montag

Markazi ranks all the parties (Maxim, Playboy, ESPN) and has some fun details, like Wade Phillips doing “Soulja Boy” in front of Jerry Jones, and a strange odor emanating from the Playboy party. Some highlights after the jump - along with Maxim party photos (and Heidi Montag’s alarming boob job).

Read more…

(Comedian) Reggie Bush: “I Hate The Paparazzi”

We’ve all seen the photos of Reggie Bush and Kim Kardashian the past few months, but we haven’t really heard either go on the record about the relationship. So Arash Markazi of SI today finally got the down-low from Bush and the booted-and-suited one.

Reggie Bush Kim Kardashian

They both offer up platitudes on their fleeting romance, but Bush’s reaction to being stalked by photogs is priceless: “I hate the paparazzi. I honestly do. She knows I don’t like it, but it comes with the territory. I deal with it. It doesn’t make me view her any different, it’s part of her life and so you just deal with it, but I hate it. I don’t like it all. When I’m not with her, they don’t care about me, when I’m with her they’re all over us.

If you know Bush the way we know Bush, you understand that he doesn’t hate the paparazzi because they “are all over us”. Read more…