ESPN pulls LeBron James Vegas party story. Why?

Just how much sway does Team LeBron hold at ESPN? That's a question worth asking after a recent story by LA reporter Arash Markazi detailing LeBron's Vegas partying was pulled from The Worldwide Leader's site post-publication.

In the article, Markazi (who obviously has the greatest job in sports) shadows LeBron during parts of a three day party marathon for which he reportedely received six figures for 'hosting'. The article, which can be seen in Google Docs form, was updated as recently as 6:40am ET before being pulled from the site. People are wondering why, and rightfully so.

First off, pulling the article in the first place was incredibly stupid. Once the article is published, there's no point in removing it. This has no effect on whether or not it will be read. Once an article is released to 'teh interwebs', it's out there. So, that leads to the repercussions. Here are two points that aren't really raised by this development, but more-so are established themes underscored by ESPN's actions.


  • ESPN does not care, whatsoever, about journalistic integrity. This is nothing new. tWWL takes care of its business interests first and foremost. ESPN and ABC are the leading broadcasters for the NBA. LeBron James is the biggest star in the NBA. Dancing on top of James' already-trounced image doesn't help them. However, does this go deeper than that? We've already seen LeBron take over ESPN's airwaves for an hour, does his camp have a say in what's printed as well? It'll be interesting to see if the folks at LRMR had enough sway to pull this article down.
  • LeBron and his camp are big babies, completely out of touch with reality. Again, nothing new. We saw what happened with the LeBron-getting-dunked-on/Jordan Crawford controversy. If his camp did pull the story from ESPN, it doesn't have any effect other than once again letting everyone know he's outrageously self conscious and cannot deal with any amount of criticism.

Now, to a couple highlights:

Bottle after bottle of "Ace of Spades" champagne is delivered to the table by waiter flying down from above the dance flore like some overgrown Peter Pan on a wire. One time he's dressed like a King, another time as Indiana Jones and another time in a replica of James' No. 6 Miami Heat Jersey.

James, who can hardly see the flying figure through his tinted glasses, almost gets kicked in the head on the waiter's last trip down. He looks at the girls around him and says "I wish they'd have one of these girls with no panties do that instead of the guy.

Toward the end of the night, Boston Celtics forward Glen Davis walks past James' party and looks at the scen up and down several times like a painting in a museum, soaking in the images of the go-go dancers, the "King" sign and the ostumed man delivering bottles of champagne.

Davis shakes his head and walks on.

Another NBA star with a similar reaction:

[Lamar] Odom, smoking a cigar, can't quite keep up. James celebrates by crossing himself and taking a shot of Patron. Moments later, a handful of girls dressed as cheerleaders walk toward his table with someone dressed in a James' Heat uniform. Someone throws talcum powder in the air as James does before every game, while his new unofficial song, "I'm in MIami," plays,

Odom casts a glance James' way before looking in the opposite direction and raising his glass at a couple on the dance floor who point to their rings and smile.

Ridiculous stuff. Pulling the article does much more damage to both LeBron and ESPN than publishing it ever would.

UPDATE: LeBron's camp says it wasn't them. Riiiight.

UPDATE II: Darren Rovell with more insight:

ESPN spokesman Josh Krulewitz tells us why the LeBron Vegas story was pulled: "The story should have never been published. The draft was inadvertently put on the server before going through the usual editorial process. We are in the midst of looking into the matter.”

Like others are already saying, that's tough to believe.

Also, on the subject, we have some fantastic dramatizations from the hilarious team at The Basketball Jones.

TBJ Dramatization: ESPN's 'LeBron in Vegas' story from The Basketball Jones on Vimeo.

Dramatization: ESPN's 'LeBron in Vegas' story, Act II from The Basketball Jones on Vimeo.

Photo credit: Mario_d

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