If you thought there couldn’t possibly be anything else to dislike about ESPN’s presentation of “The Decision” — does every Boys & Girls Club in America have a Vitamin Water vending machine? — here’s another sad bit to chew on. Not only has interviewer Jim Gray taken credit for the concept behind “The Decision”, CNBC’s Darren Rovell reports Gray was paid not by the Worldwide Leader, but by James’ camp to preside over what’s turned into a public relations nightmare.
ESPN didn’t play down one part of the business arrangement of the deal ” that Gray, the former ESPN and NBC reporter who is now working on a freelance basis, was James’ preferred interviewer.
But the network didn™t say, and now says they didn’t know, that Gray’s travel and payment for “The Decision” show was being paid by the entity set up by Team LeBron and not by ESPN, as CNBC has learned.
œWe aren™t privy to Gray™s arrangement, said ESPN spokesman Mike Soltys. œHe came as part of the package. We accepted Jim knowing that we would have extensive time for our people to interview LeBron, which was bulk of the show.
Gray™s agent Sandy Montag of IMG declined comment. Attempts to reach Maverick Carter, through James™ publicist Keith Estabrook, were unsuccessful.
But late Friday, ESPN spokesman Mike Soltys says that ESPN did in fact pay Gray’s travel and Keith Estabrook, LeBron’s publicist, said that LRMR, James’ marketing agency did not directly pay Gray. CNBC stands by its story that Gray was paid by the entity that was set up for the production.