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!