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A New Meaning for ESPN: Enabler of Narcissists

Mark Heisler of the Los Angeles Times gets the credit for calling ESPN the “enabler of narcissists.”

A commenter on Foxsports.com (where I also write) took that ball and ran with it, giving meaning to letters that haven’t stood for anything official in many years: ESPN: Enabler of a Sports Personality’s Narcissism.”

And one more footnote on the LeBron James spectacle that aired last night: If the idea really originated with Jim Gray and WME’s Ari Emanuel, as the New York Times’ Richard Sandomir reported prior to the special, that was very, very bad advice, indeed, from an agent who ought to know better.

Per Sandomir’s account:

[ESPN exec Norby] Williamson said Maverick Carter, James’s business manager, took the idea
for the special to ESPN last week, and that the deal was not completed
until Tuesday. [Jim] Gray said when he saw Carter and Ari
Emanuel, chief executive of the talent agency William Morris Endeavor Entertainment,
at Staples Center during the N.B.A. finals, he said he would like do
the first interview with James after his decision.


“I said, ‘Why don’t we buy time on the network, you own the show and he
announces his decision?’ “ Gray said.


According to Gray, Emanuel said, “That’s a great idea,” and Maverick
said, “I like it, and we can give a lot of money to charity.”

But giving money to charity doesn’t solve all ills, especially in terms of the blow inflicted to James’ image.

The issue isn’t that James left Cleveland. It’s that he dragged it out, bought into and fed the hype, and then went on national TV to stomp on Cleveland.

Emanuel is a fixture at Lakers games, and he obviously knows plenty about showbiz and basketball. But in this case, those courtside seats appear to have gone to his head.

Then again, as any agent can tell you, “enabler of narcissists” is part of the job description.

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