As the LeBron James dunkpocalypse rolled into its second week of coverage, Magic Johnson and his ludicrous $1 million offer to get LBJ in 2014's Slam Dunk Contest takes center stage. Yes, it's insane to be talking about an exhibition contest 11 and a half months away, but thanks to Magic and ESPN here we are.
Monday brought another weird turn as LeBron's dunk contest offer from Magic was the lead story on PTI after a full weekend of sports. (The ESPN echo chamber at work once again.) For as much criticism as ESPN's debate programming receives, PTI deservedly has stayed above the criticism because it's authentic and refrains from the manufactured nonsense. Not so last night.
Michael Wilbon called out Yahoo NBA writer Adrian Wojnarowski for penning a column praising James for "soaring above the $1 million offer" and calling it a distraction. Wilbon, perhaps motivated by the criticism of his close friend Earvin Johnson, went on the offensive. Here's the audio from last night's PTI...
Of course, I'm firmly on WoJo's side on this one. Nobody is saying "EXILE MAGIC JOHNSON TO ELBA" for this one million dollar offer, but it is a needless distraction and a made up story that exposes the side of ESPN taking a dizzying spiral into tabloid journalism. (And in the interest of fairness, Don Van Natta's profile on Roger Goodell represent the other side of ESPN that is the best of sports journalism.) Telling the other side to "chill out" and "shut up" exposes the shallow nature of what Wilbon and magic and ESPN are trying to do here.
It's hypocritical for Wilbon to say "have some fun" and then go on national television and claim LeBron James owes something to the game of basketball and Magic Johnson. Just take a look at how ridiculous that looks in print. LeBron James owes Magic Johnson, Michael Wilbon, and everyone else that's involved in this "fun" absolutely nothing.
Still though, what separates PTI from the other litany of debate shows is that Tony Kornheiser can be free to call out Wilbon on getting riled up over this topic because he's sensitive over criticism of his dear friend Earvin Johnson. If Magic and Wilbon really want to "have fun" with this, then let's bring the buckets of confetti and the Washington Generals while we're at it.
Why stop there? Let's raise some money for LeBron to play a game of Slamball or do one of those NBA halftime acts where he jumps through a burning ring of fire with the Suns gorilla. Because: ENTERTAINMENT! No, that's not enough. I'm going to put myself out on the line right now. I'm staking $50 for LeBron James to play the aliens from Space Jam. HE OWES IT TO THE GAME OF BASKETBALL AND THE CHILDREN'S MOVIE GENRE!
To be honest the Slam Dunk Contest on NBA All-Star Saturday hasn't really been the same or gotten that great of ratings since Star Players stopped participating in it mostly since 2008!
I have to say, I thought Woj's article was a little over the top. Are we really going to celebrate LeBron for NOT being in the dunk contest? Are we, as fans, really that happy that one of the best dunkers in the game doesn't want to participate in a showcase of dunks? I'm not backing Wilbon here by any means, but I also am not willing to jump on Woj's side. We can celebrate LeBron's sublime play, 4th quarter performances, historic feats and other things he does on the court, but let's not go crazy and applaud him for not entering a dunk contest. Is it less important than the playoff push? Of course. But honestly, wouldn't we all be incredibly excited if he entered?
As fans, we should all want LeBron in a dunk contest. Simple as that. It would be awesome, and I doubt anyone would really object to it if he decided to do it.
Wilbon tried to make the case last night that Griffin has more national commercials than LeBron because of the dunk contest. I thought TK was going to tranq him.
Wilbon sold himself out when he started doing the NBA pregame. He used to be one of the best on ESPN but is now almost gotten unwatchable on PTI. The only thing saving that show is Tony Kornheiser and his I don't give a f**k attitude. Also anyone else really annoyed when you see him doing NBA pregame and he calls Magic, Earvin? He is the only one to do it on the set. I know its his name but its just bad.
Wow. I just lost a lot of respect for WIlbon, I thought he was better than this. And calling out one of the most respected and best NBA reporters is just amazing. I sure WIlbon wouldn't call out one of the ESPN guys for the same article. Everyone at ESPN is so dang sensitive. Chill out and cover real sports.
Magic Johnson and Wilbon once again overstate the importance of the NBA slam dunk competition. The only thing James owes the NBA is an effort each an every night, which he gives, towards the goal of winning another championship. Championships, the playoffs, and even regular season games are more important than the dunk contest. In my opinion giving guys like Nate Robinson 37 chances to complete a dunk is a more valid reason to tune out the contest then the lack of "star power" in the event.