Don Canham, the University of Michigan’s Athletic Director from 1968-1988, once told sportswriter John U. Bacon, “Never turn a one-day story into a two-day story.”
It’s doubtful that LeBron James, Lynn Merritt, or anyone advising the Cleveland Cavaliers’ superstar had ever heard that phrase. Had they been familiar with Canham’s words, countless radio shows, television programs, and internet articles wouldn’t still be focusing on the story.
The story, of course, is that James got dunked on at his own camp by Xavier University’s Jordan Crawford. The moment was caught on film by a credentialed freelance journalist. However—and here’s where it gets interesting—the tape was confiscated by Merritt, a Nike Basketball senior director, and has yet to be released to the public (the whereabouts of the tape are unknown).
Even though the video would have lived forever on the internet, I can’t imagine that had the footage been released it would’ve been more than a one-day story. The dunk most likely would’ve been shown on ESPN’s “SportsCenter,” and maybe some bloggers would’ve covered it.
But would the King’s legacy have been tarnished?
Would people stop buying Nike basketball shoes?
Would anyone—yet alone the national media—still be talking about it a week after the fact?
I highly doubt it. After all, one could compose a video that made Michael Jordan look like the worst dunker in NBA history (in fact, search “Michael Jordan bloopers” on YouTube and you’ll find that someone has done just that). It’s not like LeBron hasn’t been dunked on before; every NBA player has at some point.
In other words, nobody would have thought less of LeBron if the video was released.
But people will think less of him since it wasn’t.
After he stormed off the court without shaking hands or speaking to the media following the Cavs’ elimination from the Eastern Conference Finals, this incident will only strengthen the argument that LeBron is a sore loser.
LeBron and his advisers have already mishandled this and allowed a one-day story to turn into a one-week story. I still think it would be wise to release the tape if it still exists—better later than never, right?
But make no mistake, this has hurt LeBron’s image (and perhaps Nike’s, too). This is proof that even something as commonplace as the video of a dunk can turn into a media frenzy if not handled properly.
Update, July 23: The video has surfaced! Watch it on ebaum’s, not TMZ, as that is the far superior video as far as quality. As expected, the dunk was nothing special, proving that had it been released immediately nobody would’ve cared.