This is the strangest lead in the history of journalism. I would just quote from the two paragraphs, but it wouldn’t quite capture the essence. So I present them, as we say on Turner Classic Movies, without interruption.
LeBron James is planning to announce the team with which he will sign during a one-hour special on ESPN Thursday night, ESPN The Magazine’s Chris Broussard has learned through independent sources.
ESPN would only confirm that active discussions for the special are ongoing. But sources tell Broussard that representatives for James contacted the network, proposing that James makes his announcement during a 9 p.m. ET special.
To recap: A reporter for ESPN The Magazine is reporting, through an independent source, that LeBron will break the news the world awaits on ESPN the TV network, but ESPN the corporate entity wouldn’t confirm that such a broadcast is indeed a “go.”
This whole Summer of LeBron thing has had a made-for-ESPN feel to it all along — you’ll recall that ESPN the Web site introduced a “LeBron Tracker” page in May — but a LeBron/ESPN package deal of a culmination would take ye olde cake. It would be a LeBron production pitched to ESPN, with LeBron’s “team” asking, according to Broussard, that “they be allowed to sell sponsorship for the one-hour special, with the proceeds going to the Boys and Girls Clubs of America.”
And then the key nuggets from Broussard’s bizarre report: “[Sources said] ESPN agreed to the proposal but had not been told what James has decided.”
Got that? ESPN the TV network is apparently putting LeBron James on its air without ESPN’s many and distinguished reporters knowing what he’ll say, which is really the only free-agency story worth breaking.
And there, I submit, is the ultimate rebuttal to the widespread assertion that ESPN essentially runs the world. Apparently it doesn’t run LeBron James. Apparently the Worldwide Leader is content to be his silent partner/enabler. And I say: Good grief.
UPDATE: ESPN has just issued a press release confirming that it will air what it has dubbed “The Decision” from 9 to 10 p.m. Thursday. And, in its understated fashion, ESPN will lead into the hour-long special with a THREE-HOUR “SportsCenter.” Following “The Decision” will be a TWO-HOUR “SportsCenter” (with, ESPN allows, occasional highlights from “Baseball Tonight”).
Got that? Six hours of LeBron. Unbelievable.