National Basketball Association
LeBron James dunk coverup was bad move
National Basketball Association

LeBron James dunk coverup was bad move

Published Jul. 24, 2009 1:45 a.m. ET

If a tree falls in the forest and no one hears it, does it make a sound?

I'm guessing if we leave a tape recorder out there, the answer will be yes.

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If the greatest basketball player on the planet gets dunked on in a meaningless summer pickup game, does anyone care?

Not unless Nike stormtroopers, possibly under orders from said greatest player, try to make sure no one ever sees it.

A couple of weeks ago at the LeBron James Skills Academy in Akron, Ohio, a typically loose basketball camp game gave way to the dunk heard 'round the gym but not seen 'round the world (until Wednesday).

Jordan Crawford, a 6-foot-4 sophomore guard who sat out last year at Xavier after transferring from Indiana, drove by his man from the right wing, got into the lane, gathered and flushed a thunderous two-hander on a late-arriving LeBron.

There were deserved "oohs" and "aahs," but — as we would learn — the humiliation didn't approach Vince Carter's Olympic teabagging of Frederic Weis or even Kevin Johnson's legendary playoff cram on Hakeem Olajuwon.

But according to witnesses, James himself ordered the confiscation of the tapes. Apparently what's true for political malfeasance also applies to sports star face-saving: The cover-up is worse than the "crime."

When word leaked of a mere court jester giving the King such a facial that it merited a scrubbing of the public record the conjecture began.

It must have been a Carter vs. Weis redux, a Lipton.

Maybe it was worse than the Lipton. The Nestea plunge? The Diet Squirt? The mind reeled.

Now that the Zapruder film of dunks (the Jam-ruder film?) has been released we realize that the true (and very real) humiliation of LeBron was self-inflicted.

Yes, LeBron was the last line of defense and would be the guy in the poster if they made Jordan Crawford posters, but there's hardly any shame in being dunked on when A) you were not the guy who got beat off the dribble B) you didn't rotate over until the dunker had already gathered and C) you happened to be going about half speed because, oh yeah, you were playing in a game at the LeBron James Skills Academy.

But there is great shame in not being able to take being dunked on like a man.

Through sheer petulance — of which LeBron apparently has an unlimited capacity (see: ungracious playoff loser) — James was able to turn a fun, electric basketball moment, the kind LeBron himself has provided so many times, into yet another I-am-an-image-obsessed-corporate-shill sports bummer.

According to Ryan Miller, one of two videographers to have his tape confiscated, LeBron spoke to a Nike representative who then told Miller his videotaping of the game was a violation of Nike policy that prohibits filming of after-hours games.

"There's nothing I can think of besides LeBron just not wanting it online," Miller told "It's a good story to tell people, I guess. But then again, I'm kind of pissed. I lost my tape."

It seems to be a matter of dispute as to whether the game was, in fact, an after-hours game or if this video ban is, in fact, a Nike policy. One thing is certain: had the contents of the videotape glorified the Nike icon, the company would have done everything in its considerable power to disseminate the images around the globe.


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