July 28, 2010
As we know, LeBron James(notes) partied hard in Las Vegas over the weekend. We know he was Mr. Cool Cakes and we know he was wearing sunglasses at night for a lot of the time. We know Chris Paul(notes), Rajon Rondo(notes), Larry Hughes(notes) and a few other NBA players were there, and we know that LeBron videotaped a bunch of fans chanting his name. Other than that, we don't know a lot of the details of LeBron's weekend.
However, on Wednesday morning, ESPN's Arash Markazi posted (note: link is dead, but that's where the story lived) his first-person account of LeBron James' weekend. The column was quickly taken down with no explanation, but thankfully Sam Rigby captured it in all its glory. You can read the whole thing right here, and it's highly recommended you do. But the whole gist of the story is that Markazi, a former Sports Illustrated and Los Angeles Times contributor, somehow got to spend a few days with James' entourage and the results are both surprising and totally expected.
Yes, you'd expect LeBron James to be coddled and have a tenuous grasp on normalcy, but you wouldn't necessarily that to express itself in the way Markazi describes. Get ready for a blockquote festival, because there's some serious (alleged) hilarity going on here.
Five security guards are stationed around [James], one at each corner of the table he's about to sit at and another roving around with him, watching his every move. Anyone who takes two steps towards James is stopped and must have James' approval to come closer.
The waiter bringing him his cup of green tea with a spoonful of honey and a dash of lemon juice makes the cut, as does the scantily clad brunette with a tattoo of a heart on her right shoulder.
She wants to take a picture with him. "I can't right now," says James. "Maybe later, upstairs, I'll remember you're the one with the tattoo."
James will host a party later in the upstairs nightclub at Tao, but he is currently hosting a dinner for his friends and family in the downstairs restaurant.
Priorities, man. Tea, then dinner, then pictures in the club with tattooed ladies. Standard operating procedure. Also nice of LeBron to give future picture-seekers a hint for how to get noticed by an athlete — a notable tattoo is a great way to ensure a superstar will remember you. It also doesn't hurt to be a scantily clad lady.
We're just getting started.
The truth is, in James' dream world, the duo he would love to play with for the next decade would be [Dwyane] Wade and [Chris] Paul, his two closest friends in the NBA.
Tough break, Chris Bosh(notes). Though I guess being LeBron James' third-best friend in the NBA isn't so bad. At the very least, now that Bosh knows how James really feels, he can spend some more time working on a documentary.
James and Paul are fairly quiet at the center of the table as they take in the scene around them. As family style plates of miso-glazed Chilean sea bass and crispy lobster and shrimp dumplings are brought to the table, James effortlessly picks up the food with his chopsticks and occasionally raises his cup of green tea to passersby as they raise their martinis and mojitos in his direction before being helped along by security guards.
LeBron James' DER (dinner efficiency rating) is off-the-charts. We haven't seen someone handle chopsticks this well since Michael Jordan's legendary 1988 dinner at Benihana.
About a dozen security guards, moving their flash lights, direct us to a roped off section on the dance floor of Tao next to a couple of apparently nude women in a bathtub full of water and rose petals. [...]
Carter, LeBron's' childhood friend and manager, begins dancing around James like Puff Daddy in a Notorious B.I.G video. A giant red crown-shaped cake is brought over to James while go-go dancers dressed in skimpy red and black outfits raise four lettered placards that spell out, "KING." Carter grabs a bottle of Grey Goose and pours a quarter of it on the floor and raises it up before passing it off.
Naked ladies in bathtubs, Diddy dancing and dumping a bunch of vodka on the floor — typical club stuff, really. Try it at your local this weekend. It should go over really well.
James' infamous one-hour special, "The Decision," was reportedly the brainchild of Carter, a 28-year-old who has never managed anyone outside of his friend James. This three-day party marathon in Vegas (which James is being paid six figures to host) is also Carter's idea.
Hey, getting paid of hundreds of thousands of dollars to party in Las Vegas is a pretty good gig, if you can get it. Just ask Wayne Newton.
Bottle after bottle of "Ace of Spades" champagne is delivered to the table by a waiter flying down from above the dance floor like some overgrown Peter Pan on a wire. One time he's dressed like a King, another time like Indiana Jones and another in an a replica of James' No. 6 Miami Heat jersey.
James, who can hardly see the flying figure through his tinted glasses, almost gets kicked in the head on the waiter's last trip down. He looks at the girls around him and says, "I wish they'd have one of these girls with no panties do that instead of the guy."
Nice. I've got a feeling that "I wish they'd have one of these girls with no panties on do that instead of the guy" will go down as a legendarily bad NBA quote. Very Charles Barkley. Very hetero. Very cool.
Towards the end of the night, Boston Celtics center Glen Davis(notes) walks past James' party and looks at the scene up and down several times like a painting in a museum, soaking in the images of the go-go dancers, the "King" sign and the costumed man delivering bottles of champagne.
Davis shakes his head and walks on.
As people have noted, when a guy who goes by "Big Baby" and "Shrek" thinks you're ridiculous, then you're very ridiculous. Like, the most ridiculous anyone could imagine. But like so many things LeBron James does, he took that up a notch as well.
Soon after arriving at Lavo, a restaurant and nightclub at the Palazzo, a scene straight out of "West Side Story" breaks out when James and Lamar Odom(notes), seated at a nearby table, engage in an impromptu dance-off to California Swag District's "Teach Me How To Dougie."
Odom, smoking a cigar, can't quite keep up. James celebrates by crossing himself and taking a shot of Patron.
Well, at least that explains all those sideline dance practices with Danny Green(notes). LeBron was just getting ready in case he ever had to have a dance off in the club. Once again, being prepared pays dividends.
As I mentioned, the column was pulled almost immediately after hitting the Internet. Emails to ESPN for comment or explanation have gone unreturned thus far, so we have no idea why this was taken down. It could be totally made-up, it could be LeBron's people not wanting all this stuff out in the public, or it could be something else entirely. But for now, we get a chance to see how 20-something multi-millionaires (allegedly) live.
It's not terribly surprisingly, actually. I mean, I'm a 20-something thousandaire and I fake dunk on just about every overhang I encounter. Why wouldn't LeBron do the same? That being said, maybe having a reporter follow and document all the immature but understandable things James is doing wasn't the best move. It surely won't win very many lost LeBron fans back to his side.
UPDATE: ESPN's response to pulling the story:
"The story should have never been published. The draft was inadvertently put on the server before going through the usual editorial process. We are in the midst of looking into the matter."
For your background, as Darren Rovell tweeted, LeBron's business team had nothing to do with the story being removed. The decision was not influenced by anyone other than the ESPN.com editorial staff for the reasons expressed above.
End of story? Not likely. BDL's Dan Devine asked an ESPN rep if the story would be re-posted after "the usual editorial process," and they responded "We are looking into all aspects of the matter."
Hope to see you again soon, missing story.