Turns out, there were at least two cameras rolling Monday night when Crawford dunked on James during a pick-up game here at the LeBron James Skills Academy. It was a two-handed jam, the kind that would’ve circulated quickly on YouTube. But Nike officials eliminated that possibility shortly after the dunk happened by allegedly confiscating tapes from various cameramen.
Freelance photographer Ryan Miller was one of the cameramen shooting the game.
He told CBSSports.com that Nike Basketball Senior Director Lynn Merritt took his tape.
“He just said, ‘We have to take your tape,’” Miller said. “They took it from other guys, too.”
Worth noting is that there is no policy against filming at the LeBron James Skills Academy, and Miller said he had been filming all day without incident. Nobody ever told him to stop. Nobody ever said there was a problem … until after Crawford dunked on James.
Chris Chase of Yahoo! Sports puts two and two together and surmises that James instructed Nike officials to confiscate the tapes:
Ryan Miller, a freelance photographer who was working at the camp that day, told CBSSports.com:
“LeBron called [Nike Basketball Senior Director Lynn Merritt] over and told him something,” Miller said. “That’s how I knew his name was Lynn. LeBron said, ‘Hey, Lynn. Come here.’”
A few minutes later, Miller’s tape was confiscated.
Connecting the dots, it seems clear that LeBron didn’t want video leaking out of him getting dunked on by a college sophomore, so he told a Nike official to get the tape. It was an understandable reflex move (gotta protect the image), but it also unnecessarily makes a mountain out of a molehill.
The Crawford dunk would have been a temporary embarrassment for LeBron. Let’s say the video was put on YouTube. It blows up for a bit, dominates blogs for 36 hours, everyone has a good chuckle and then it’s forgotten about.
But by censoring the tape, LeBron turns the dunk into a legend. On video, it’s just a dunk. Without video, the jam can reach mythic proportions.
UPDATE: Crawford talks about the dunk with Jeff Goodman of FOXSports.com. (Via SLAM)