In what can only be referred to as a Mad Libs sports story, LeBron James and Nick Saban are feuding over copyright infringement.
Earlier this week, ESPN reported that LeBron’s Uninterrupted platform had sent a letter to the University of Alabama pointing out similarities between Uninterrupted’s barbershop-based web show The Shop and the Crimson Tide football program’s upcoming series Shop Talk. The notice reportedly claimed that Alabama’s show infringed on “copyright, trademark rights and other valuable intellectual property rights” of Uninterrupted’s, which debuted last year.
Well, on Tuesday a reporter asked Saban for his thoughts on the letter from Uninterrupted, and the coach was just as exasperated as you would expect.
“I think LeBron James is a great player,” Saban said. “There’s been at least 20 barbershop-type things I’ve seen on TV. I didn’t know anybody owned that. I didn’t even know he had one. I’m sorry anybody could be offended by something we were just having fun with. I enjoyed it, and we’re going to continue to do it.”
“I’m sorry someone can be offended by something we were having fun with.”
Nick Saban responds to LeBron James ? pic.twitter.com/8yhS98RJGJ
— Jordan Heck (@JordanHeckFF) April 3, 2018
When asked hours later about Saban’s response, LeBron defended Uninterrupted’s right to be a pain in Alabama’s ass, before declaring that “the lawyers will figure it out.”
“From a media perspective, you guys know Nick Saban more than I do, so that’s exactly what I would think he would say,” James said. “But I built Uninterrupted for a reason, for us athletes to have a platform to be able to speak about whatever we want to talk about. I respect him as a coach, but I’ll be damned if I allow someone to use our platform or try to do the same thing we’re doing and just think it’s OK.”
“I’ll be damned if I’ll allow someone to use our platform to try to do the same thing that we’re doing” — LeBron on ‘Uninterrupted’ copyright claim filed against Nick Saban and Bama
(via @SpinDavies) pic.twitter.com/oOrw47VQTK
— Sports Illustrated (@SInow) April 4, 2018
It’s pretty easy to see all sides here. Uninterrupted can’t help but notice that their show and Alabama’s both feature sports figures bantering in a barbershop, with the word “shop” in the name and scissors in the logo. And Saban feels, quite reasonably, that this is a whole lot of fuss for a goofy web series meant to fill some time in the offseason.
According to ESPN, representatives from Alabama and Uninterrupted have been in contact and hope to work together toward a resolution. Saban and LeBron, however, don’t sound quite as conciliatory.