Like a no-look pass, first it was there, and then it was gone.
On Wednesday, ESPN made waves by mysteriously yanking down a piece posted to its own website about LeBron James' somewhat salacious weekend of partying in Las Vegas in the wake of his signing with the Miami Heat.
Written by Arash Markazi of ESPN's Los Angeles affiliate, the story recounted the author's night out on the town with James and his entourage at the Tao nightclub at the Venetian hotel. While the majority of the piece, which is still online, contained several harmless vignettes such as finding James engaged in a dance off with Lamar Odom of the Los Angeles Lakers, a few parts cast the King in less than the best light.
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According to Markazi, copious amounts of champagne and vodka flowed over the course of the evening, and scantily clad women - or in at least one case, nude women - cavorted around the player and his friends who did shots of tequila while waiters floating on wires serviced the table.
Late Wednesday, the network responded to the furor around the spiked article.
"The story should have never been published," wrote Josh Krulewitz of ESPN in a statement to SportsBusiness Daily. "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."
James' camp later followed with their own statement, stating that they had nothing to do with the decision to pull the story from the site.
Earlier this month, ESPN was roundly criticized for airing "The Decision," an hour-long, prime time special in which James selected his new team. Sports pundits felt that the network compromised itself for access and that it would be hard for it to be objective in its future coverage of the player.