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Bissinger Attacks LeBron Over Media Hype, But He's Got It All Wrong

Patrick Crawley |
July 3, 2010 | 11:56 a.m. PDT

Sports Editor

Noted author Buzz Bissinger attacked LeBron James via Twitter Saturday, accusing the NBA superstar of manufacturing a "dog and pony [show]" around his free agency status and saying he is "not the man I thought I knew at all."

Bissinger, who co-authored the book Shooting Stars with LeBron in 2009, appeared to be set off by media coverage of a meeting between LeBron and the Bulls. Using Twitter as his soap box, the Friday Night Lights author sank his teeth into Cleveland's favorite son, launching one salvo after another at him and the media over the course of an hour. 

The rant began with a vitriolic indictment of free agency coverage in general ("Crap with LeBron pathetic--men acting like teeny boppers over the Beatles. They have no shame and Lebron is milking every second of it.") and quickly evolved into a personal attack on LeBron himself ("Why the dog and pony? Because LeBron team got together and knew it would generate enormous publicity. Not the man I thought I knew at all...").

The crux of Bissinger's argument: there are more important things going on in the United States; LeBron James doesn't deserve this much attention.

He reiterated that point several times, often punctuating it with sarcasm. For example, this stream of tweets:

LeBron update on Bulls!! "We promise to move Mayor Daley out of office so you can use if for your posse."

LeBron update on Bulls!! "We promise to make your mom manager of the Cubs since she could not do any worse than Piniella."

LeBron update on Bulls!! "We promise to eradicate any and all signs that Michael Jordan ever played here."

LeBron update on Bulls!!! "We will put in media guide that you led Cavaliers to NBA championship last year and reduced Kobe to tears."

LeBron update on Bulls!! "Pope due in any second. Promises to convert to whatever religion you like, give free run of Vatican in off-season.

Point is, this whole Lebronamania could have been handled with dignity and privacy and he still would have gotten his zillions.

Bissinger has a point. The hype surrounding LeBron has been ridiculous. There is coverage of his every move. It's like when Michael Jackson died or Princess Diana got into the car crash in France. The media (myself included) just can't get enough. 

But to blame this tidal wave of reports on LeBron is unfair. 

LeBron is simply using an existing system (the culture of overexposure) to his advantage. He didn't create the system. He's just managing it better than most people are able to.

Bissinger has a right to be upset and a right to express his anger the way he did. Overexposure is frustrating (just ask anyone exposed to two offseasons of Brett Favre coverage), but I think he's punching the wrong heavy bag. 

LeBron James isn't responsible for this mess. The audience is. If people didn't watch, read and listen to coverage like this, it wouldn't be lucrative and the media wouldn't cover it.

As much as we like to think of the media as the guardian of public thought, its not. Maybe it used to be, but times have changed. Now the media is simply a delivery system. And like any good delivery service it gives the people what they want as soon as it can be delivered. 

Right now, what the people want are reports about LeBron. Lots of them -- preferably ones that involve every detail of his meetings with the Bulls, Nets, Knicks, Heat and Cavaliers. And if cable television can't deliver that to them, they'll simply go somewhere else (radio, websites, blogs, Twitter, etc.). That's just how the system works.  

The next time Bissinger sounds off on Twitter about hype, he should go after the real culprits behind this mess: the millions of people consuming this stuff. 

To reach editor Patrick Crawley, click here.



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