ESPN’s relationship with LeBron James is unlike any they have with a current athlete. Some might call it complicated. Others might call it obsessive. Whatever the case, ESPN has devoted enough time to hating, loving, and covering LeBron James to make it into its own 24/7 cable channel – ESPNBron.
Every time James speaks, tweets, or sneezes it makes news. James shares his thoughts on the NBA’s Mount Rushmore and it launches a month’s worth of content. He calls himself a kung fu master and ESPN will probably bring on a karate expert to talk about his form. He tells Tony Romo don’t watch ESPN but then has an entire ESPN: The Magazine issue dedicated to him. It never ends.
But last night may be the most absurd episode in the ESPN-LeBron relationship.
Dion Waiters hit a buzzer beater for the Cavaliers last night in Detroit to defeat the Pistons 97-96. Here’s how ESPN Stats & Info presented it:
Dion Waiters: 1st career buzzer-beater for LeBron James' former team tonight
— ESPN Stats & Info (@ESPNStatsInfo) March 27, 2014
Lest you think ESPN’s world revolves around LeBron James and other celebrity athletes, that is what we’re officially calling the Cavaliers now. ”LeBron James’ former team.” The only reason it still says “Cleveland” on the uniform is because “LeBron James’ former team” won’t fit, apparently.
If this was 2010, maybe this would be funny. But it’s been four seasons since LeBron James played in Cleveland. Four seasons! That’s a lifetime in sports! Isn’t it time for everybody involved to move past it at this point? Are we going to refer to the Toronto Raptors as Chris Bosh’s former team? Where is the cutoff here? Who gets to win the “Jamal Crawford’s former team” sweepstakes?
I get it, the Cavaliers may not reach those same heights they did with James for another 50 years. Dan Gilbert’s comic sans may as well be the second coming of the Billy Goat curse for all I know. But do we really need to stoop to this level so long after the fact? It may be hard for some people to believe, but the Cavaliers didn’t just shut down after James left, they are still a real life NBA team.
If we’re really going to label professional franchises by which superstar used to play for them, the possibilities are truly endless…
— John Morris (@JMorris_NP) March 27, 2014
— Greg... (@RegicideGreg) March 27, 2014
@awfulannouncing I can't believe Mike James's former team lost to Kevin Ollie's team in such dramatic fashion on ESPN.
— Reed Strong (@reedstrong7) March 27, 2014
@awfulannouncing The Heat are now “Rony Seikaly’s former team”
— Tony Dominguez (@t0eknee) March 27, 2014
@awfulannouncing It's only fair to call the Browns "Brandon Weeden's former team"
— Travis Peters (@TheTraPete) March 27, 2014
@awfulannouncing And of course, the Clippers will forever be "Eric Piatkowski's former team."
— Mike Shearer (@MikeShearerTWG) March 27, 2014