This week ESPN pulled an article from its website about LeBron James, which has caused quite a commotion. The story, written by Arash Markazi, is about James’ recent adventure in Las Vegas, which includes the line, “The more you hang around James, the more you realize he’s still a child wrapped in a 6-foot-8, 250 pound frame.”
The article was published by ESPN.com then quickly pulled down, but not before search engines and others were able to capture the content. At first, many speculated the James’ business team was behind the spiked article, as a similar situation happened last summer, when someone from James’ camp confiscated a video tape of James’ getting dunked on by a college basketball player. Video of the play was eventually shown when someone else had the move recorded on their personal camera.
ESPN has also received criticism for airing James’ hour-long special, “The Decision,” which blurred the boundary lines between the news organization and James (and was simply done in poor taste). This has also lead many to believe ESPN has a vested interest in James’ reputation, which could be another reason for the spiked article.
ESPN has published a statement in regards to why the article was pulled:
ESPN.com will not be posting the story in any form. We looked into the situation thoroughly and found that Arash did not properly identify himself as a reporter or clearly state his intentions to write a story. As a result, we are not comfortable with the content, even in an edited version, because of the manner in which the story was reported. We’ve been discussing the situation with Arash and he completely understands. To be clear, the decisions to pull the prematurely published story and then not to run it were made completely by ESPN editorial staff without influence from any outside party.
Markazi also released a statement of his own, about his reporting:
I have been in conversations with ESPN.com’s editors and, upon their complete review, understand their decision not to run the story. It is important to note that I stand by the accuracy of the story in its entirety, but should have been clearer in representing my intent to write about the events I observed.
Questions have also been raised about a possible suspension for Markazi.