LeBron James and ESPN: Too Close for Comfort?

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A juicy article chronicling a rather extravagant day in LeBron James' life was yanked from ESPN.com yesterday, inspiring outrage from journalists and fans alike. You can read the full story here, or head to SB Nation for a breakdown of the juiciest bits (naked women in bathtubs, champagne bottles served by Peter Pan...). Both ESPN and the story's author released statements this afternoon about why the story was spiked (apparently writer Arash Markazi didn't "properly identify himself as a reporter"), and Markazi may be suspended.

With this explosive--albeit briefly published--story coming on the heels of ESPN's controversial airing of The Decision, The Fabulous Forum at The Los Angeles Times asks a roundtable of reporters whether the network's relationship with James has become unethically close. Here's Shannon Owens, of the Orlando Sentinel, on the matter:

ESPN was right to pull the story because it would have created yet another double standard of coverage for LeBron James.

Why should he, again, be singled out for routine behavior and choices in the fast-paced social lives of athletes? Nothing illegal (that we know of so far) happened at this party. And let's be real, this isn't the first or last wild party an athlete, CEO, politician or average guy with connections or cash to blow will engage in.

In fairness, the article was not a negative smear campaign against LeBron. It was just more endless air and space about the "King" with no rings.


Read the full story at The Los Angeles Times.

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Kevin Fallon is a reporter for the Daily Beast. He's a former entertainment editor at TheWeek.com and former writer and producer for The Atlantic's entertainment channel.

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