Skip Bayless wrote a terrible column about LeBron James. This is not earth-shattering news in any way. In fact, it’s probably the most predictable thing you will see all day. And this came before Miami got smashed by San Antonio in Game 4 of the NBA Finals to fall down 3-1 in the series.
What is newsworthy is the depths to which Bayless and ESPN continue to sink in the lowest common denominatorizing of sports.
Over the months we’ve made something of an effort to reduce the amount of space dedicated to Skip Bayless and First Take, at least subconsciously. Let’s be honest – there’s only so many times you can try to describe a pig wallowing in the mud in a new way. It’s not about thinking that by ignoring him, he’ll go away. That’s just folly. First Take’s audience is in the six figures and Bayless has over a million Twitter followers. Whether or not we, or Richard Deitch, or anyone else choose to write about the situation won’t change that. It’s just not very fulfilling to always be watching a pig wallowing in the mud.
Nevertheless, there are still times when the show and its personalities do something so ludicrous, so farcical, and so preposterous that it’s worth bringing to light as an example of the commentary ESPN not only allows, but promotes. Therefore, you, the reader can make the informed decision to turn away and not consume the product.
At a time when the best of ESPN is on display at the World Cup, seeing the worst of ESPN being promoted (on the front page of ESPN.com no less) is enough to bang your head into the nearest concrete wall a la Gus Frerotte. Indeed, it is a Bayless column entitled “Up and down with LeBron James.”
I refuse to link to the column written by the Dark Lord on principle, and trust me, there are plenty of videos of literal paint drying on YouTube that are a better use of your time. But this part stood out for its sheer brazenness and total lack-of-perspective, even by the author’s standards.
You see, LeBron James isn’t the easiest target in sports, as he claimed to be earlier this series. No, that’s Bayless himself. Skip Bayless, the lone beacon of truth and light remaining in the world, is the man that really has the largest bullseye on his back.
Skip Bayless thinks Skip Bayless is the victim of Skip Bayless making millions by trolling LeBron James
After Game 1 of the NBA Finals — you know, the Cramp Game — LeBron told ESPN’s Michael Wilbon that he has become “the easiest target in sports.” I was dumbfounded. Easiest target? How about most overprotected superstar? Didn’t anyone else see this as a rather pathetic plea for sympathy after LeBron had let down his team?
I obviously can’t read, watch and listen to everything. But of the media members I follow, all are pro-LeBron — most of them passionately so — and most are extremely slow to criticize him and quick to give him a pass. Maybe they are right in their approach and I am stubbornly wrong. But throughout LeBron’s 11-year career, I have merely attempted to remain objective, applauding when he is all-time great yet pointing out on air and in print when his obvious intangible flaws get the best of him.
So I’ve always stood out like a, well, cramped thumb. I’m LeBron’s “No. 1 Critic” and his “Biggest Hater.” I feel a little like Shailene Woodley’s character in “Divergent.” The government is going to eliminate me because I don’t fit in.
Sometimes I feel like the easiest target in sports. I’ve constantly heard during the nearly 10 years I’ve been on “First Take” (formerly “Cold Pizza”) that I bash LeBron just to boost ratings. Wrong! I merely react to what I see or don’t see from LeBron, great and bad, and I always back it up with facts.
My only question to everyone at ESPN responsible is this – how do you sleep at night?