UPDATE – Ahh, the power of the internet. Within the time it took me to write this blog, another video has surfaced, this one on ebaumnation.com. This is is definitely better quality and has much more clarity. View this link here at our Cavs site King James Gospel.
Writing for an NBA blog, I felt a certain obligation to reacting to the LeBron James “dunk gate” tape that TMZ.com apparently purchased the rights to and displayed on their website here – take a look if you haven’t seen the video and if you have seen the video, its worth clicking the link just for a second look.
Now throughout LeBron James’ young and heralded career he has pretty much delivered on everything. He was the product of a hype machine coming out of high school and upon his entrance in the NBA, anything short of spectacular would be considered a letdown, however, no letdown was to be had. LeBron took the league by storm. He has become if not the league’s best player, but arguably the biggest name and brightest star in a game moving swiftly towards becoming global.
And throughout his career he has had some pretty devastating dunks. My personal favorite is this one – more than for just the dunk, but the circumstances surrounding the dunk. You can easily go onto youtube and search “LeBron James dunk” and you’ll get back over 50,000 videos relating that. And up till recently all of those videos would have one thing in common: it would be LBJ dishing out the dunk and some meager NBA defender taking it on the chest.
That all changed however when LeBron decided to get up and down the court with some of the counselors during his Nike Skills Academy Camp. You all know the story by now, but just to rehash – Jordan Crawford from Xavier did something that put his name on the map far more than averaging 18 and 9 would do in the upcoming season: he dunked on LeBron.
Had this been the case and there was no video around, the dunk simply would have become that of a folk legend. Something Jordan can go back on and tell all his buddies at XU. I can see the exchanges now “yeah yeah, I dunked on him. Caught it in the lane, came down, took off of two feet, and cuffed it on him. LBJ looked stupid,” and then of course they wouldn’t believe him “Yeah, OK sure Jordan. Sure ya did.”
The story takes a nice twist though because someone did have a video. Now, lets say the video got released following the camp. It probably would have become a quick youtube sensation and maybe a twitter trending topic for one day, maybe.
But instead what happened is Nike confiscated the tapes and the dunk took on a life of its on. Suddenly Crawford was in front of a camera doing interviews about it. Suddenly everyone was talking about it, and all the while LeBron’s already shaky rep as being a sore loser was now growing larger.
The media swell has finally, I believe, reached a crest with TMZ’s purchase and subsequent releasing of the tape. The video itself is a little anti-climatic. You can’t see who’s who and the only way really to tell what is going on, is that TMZ provides arrows to show which blur is LeBron and which is Crawford. From the looks of it, LeBron seems a little too deep under the basket, then takes a bad angle to try and block the shot and Crawford went up strong and finished strong all the way through the rim. By anyones standards, it seemed like a pretty good dunk. It was the confiscation though that made this thing take-off.
Now I don’t know who advising LeBron through this, if anyone. And I don’t know if this was just a stroke of genius by the people of Nike, or a short moment of panic – maybe both. I just think that LeBron should have handled the whole thing a little bit differently. He should have stepped up publicly and asked Nike to release the tapes. So what, you got dunked on. Is anyone’s perception of you being the type of basketball player we all know you are going to change at all based on that? Absolutely not. If anything, it shapes his image into something better. In my opinion it was impressive enough for LeBron even to get out there and run with those guys. He obviously has nothing to prove, but he loves the game and probably couldn’t pass up the chance to lace em up and get out there. I think this enhances LeBron’s image. Then when Crawford was barreling though the lane, LeBron didn’t have to go up and attempt to block the shot, but again, he’s a competitor and its his instincts that guided him. This one time he was gotten, but he had the guts to try – again image enhancers.
What happend with this video is simply the product of hype. It all of a sudden had a “scandalous” feel to it because of the confiscation, when all it really was, was a no name college player dunking on the games brightest star. A newsworthy story, but not something that should have carried weight for over a month.