Wednesday, July 7

Wojnarowski Highlights His Own Hypocrisy in Criticism of LeBron

Yahoo's Adrian Wojnarowski eviscerated LeBron James and his one-hour special in his most recent column. No doubt a skilled writer, this reads like a tear down piece writers seem to enjoy after years of building up a super star. The King's choice to give ESPN the exclusive must also be considered. Wojnarowski's often regarded as the hardest-working hoops writer, and based on results, rightfully so. Therefore it's not hard to imagine that being left out of the "loop" would be a potential source of aggravation for him. I don't know Mr. Wojnarowski and while there is little doubt that LeBron's Decision special is ego driven, his over the top ripping of LeBron seems awfully hypocritical for a myriad of reasons.

LeBron doesn’t want to just win titles. His stated wants include becoming sport’s first billionaire athlete. Among his advisors, he counts Warren Buffet. Jay-Z has helped James focus his mind on chasing something bigger than basketball. The question will be this: For the kid out of Akron, will his hometown – will even winning – be enough to hold onto LeBron James?
28 months ago, Mr. Wojnarowski wrote this about the potential for LeBron to move on. 28 months! By far he's written about LeBron more than any other player in the NBA (with Kobe's back-to-back championships and Finals MVPs in 2nd). A quick search of Wojnarowski's Y! archives reveals almost exactly 50 articles with 'LeBron' in the title or first line, excluding duplicates. 'Cav' appears in less than half as many titles. It seems obvious that LeBron articles get more page views than Cavalier stories do. So, Yahoo! and Mr. Wojnarowski do the smart thing and uses LeBron to increase readership.

In November when LeBron proclaimed he would no longer answer questions about his impending free agency, Wojnarowski was again there to rip him, but also to ask questions.
When I tried to ask him whether he had planned to make his 2010 proclamation, or had merely spit it out spur of the moment, James cut off the question and ultimately ended his postgame interview session. For his own good, he better have thought this one out a little, because there seems to have been so little else that he loved as much as discussing the NBA’s obsession with his future.
So, as a reporter you want the answers about his plans, because you want people to read your column about him, made infinitely more compelling with quotes by him, but resent the fact that he enjoys the attention? Apparently the attention and praise for these stories should be heaped on the reporter who scoops the story, not on the person who actually is the story.

In 2007, Mr. Wojnarowski wrote about Kobe wanting "all the money and all the shots." He was critical of Kobe prioritizing those over winning. Of course, in hindsight Kobe's since won two rings and in 2009, Mr. Wojnarowski wrote a piece, "Kobe’s lesson to Tiger: Winning trumps all." Detailing specific games from 2003, it's a wonder how Mr. Wojnarowski seemingly forgets the diva tendencies that he described in 2007, when Kobe demanded a trade from the Lakers. That was the same summer that it was announced 24 hours ahead of time that Kobe would be holding a noon press conference. I don't know the length of the press conference, but I doubt it was much shorter than the announcement will be for LeBron. After all, he's expected to announce in the first ten minutes of the broadcast (per an ESPN exec). Even when critical of Kobe, Mr. Wojnarowski's tone was nowhere near as harsh as has been his recent treatment of LeBron. He accused LeBron of holding the playoffs hostage, despite LeBron's relative silence whereas Kobe Bryant made a trade demand immediately before the NBA Finals began and didn't back off until they were over. It should be noted, that was the NBA Finals that "the empty superstar" was in.

"The empty superstar." That's how Mr. Wojanrowski chose to describe LeBron, an extremely harsh criticism that seems more personal than professional. He rips LeBron for attempting to grow his brand, while he himself appears on local radio shows around the country (to talk about LeBron) and maintains a twitter account (with frequent LeBron updates) all in the name of expanding his and his employers brand. For someone who has written a book about one of the pioneers of self-promotion in sports, Jimmy V, Mr. Wojnarowski's tone towards LeBron emanates an air of someone with a grudge. Perhaps LeBron has been poorly advised, perhaps LeBron should fire Maverick Carter, but this young man has done nothing to deserve the personal attacks lobbed his way by someone who has made a living writing about him.

In the '07 article where Mr. Wojnarowski criticized Kobe he wrote this, "The best player in the sport is still Tim Duncan, because everything he's ever done has been with winning as his motivation." It's the only time Tim Duncan's name appears in the archive. As Mr. Wojnarowski points out, "David Stern has long pushed the individual over team, marketed showy over substance, and LeBron James represents the manifestation of it all." And based on your opinion of LeBron apparently so have you. So have you.

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