Jim Gray Rumors
With all the changes surrounding the Sacramento Kings, at least a few things will remain the same. The longtime broadcast team of Gary Gerould, Grant Napear and Jerry Reynolds are back and they are joined by a familiar face, former fan favorite Kayte Christensen. Christensen will resume here role as sideline reporter that she held with the Kings from 2007-2010. Christensen was replaced before the 2010-11 season by Jim Gray, a friend of the Maloof family. A source has confirmed to Cowbell Kingdom that Gray will not return for the 2013-14 season.
The Lakers beat the Kings last night behind 23 points and 18 rebounds from Dwight Howard and 18 points and five rebounds from Ron Artest. After the game, Jim Gray spoke with Artest about DeMarcus Cousins. Since Artest has had his fair share of “issues,” he offered advice to Cousins to deal with his issues. I don’t think he actually gave any sort of advice that anyone could really use, but at the end, he asked Jim Gray to go pop some bottles and party in Sacramento.
Shaquille O’Neal: Just before the start of the ’03-’04 season the coaching staff called us in and said, “No more public sparring or you’ll get fined.” Everyone knew it was simmering, but Mitch [Kupchak] never came down. Magic Johnson, who was around all the time, never said anything. But Phil was tired of it. Karl Malone and Gary Payton were sick of it. I said, “All right, I hear you. I’m done.” So what happens? Immediately after that Kobe runs right out to Jim Gray and does this interview where he lets me have it. He said I was fat and out of shape. He said I was milking my toe injury for more time off, and the injury wasn’t even that serious. (Yeah, right. It only ended my damn career.) He said I was “lobbying for a contract extension when we have two Hall of Famers playing pretty much for free.” I’m sitting there watching this interview and I’m gonna explode. Hours earlier we had just promised our coach we’d stop. It was a truce broken. I let the guys know, “I’m going to kill him.”
Jim Gray on what rumor bothers him the most: “That I was paid by LeBron. That’s just ridiculous and that’s just insanity for someone to totally fabricate and for it to become a life of its own that LeBron James would pay an interviewer to interview him. That damages journalistic credibility to say the subject interviewing you is paying you like you’re in their pocket, well that couldn’t be further from the truth.” Whether or not he would do the show all over again: “Would I do the show again? (Host: Yeah.) Yes. We’d all make it better.”
Jim Gray on if he could tell by his body language what LeBron was going to do: “I could tell by the time he sat in the chair he was not staying in Cleveland. That was just my impression. He did not tell me and I did not ask.”
Jim Gray: I had known LeBron for some time so he said he would consider that. Then I said better yet why don’t we announce his decision live on television and go buy an hour of air time on a network and just explain it to all the fans at one time where he is deciding to go. Ari jumped in and said that’s a brilliant idea.
Jim Gray: I had a history with LeBron. Interviewed him when he was in high school, did his first game when he played against the Sacramento Kings, was there the night that Gordon Gund won the lottery for the Cleveland Cavaliers, interviewed him on the night of the Draft and so on and so forth.
Jim Gray joined The Dan Patrick Show to talk about how he feels about The Decision on year later, how the whole thing came about, whether or not he knew where LeBron was going before the announcement was made, if he had a gut feeling where he was going when he saw him that night, and if he would do it all over again if he had the option. How the idea came about: “I was with my wife and I think it was game two of the NBA Finals between the Celtics and the Lakers in Los Angeles at the Staples Center and I was sitting in the stands and walked down at halftime to say hello to Maverick Carter, who was sitting in the front row with Ari Emanuel. We just got to talking and David Geffen, one of Jeffrey Katzenberg’s and Steven Spielberg’s partners was sitting with him as well and we just got to talking and I said to Maverick it’s going to be an interesting summer and I would like to do the first interview with LeBron when he decides on his team. He said you know we can think about that, that’s not a bad idea.
Gray also said he was surprised by the backlash, especially because this wasn’t easy for LeBron. Dan asked Gray what LeBron’s mood was like before. ”You could tell this wasn’t something was easy for him,” Gray said. “It wasn’t jovial. There wasn’t any champagne or any corks going off. … I think it was a tough deal for him.” Gray thinks it was harder than people realized for LeBron to leave Cleveland. “I think he tried his best to stay a Cavalier,” Gray said. “I think it was hard for him to recruit anyone….” Dan asked if he could have a mulligan, what would he do differently. Gray said he wished that he explained why they were at the Boys’ and Girls’ club.
Gray went on the Dan Patrick Show (see the video below) and, as reported by CSN Chicago, and first he wanted to clear up the rumor he was paid by LeBron James to be part of the event. Gray said that he’s upset people lie about him. Especially when they say that LeBron paid Gray to do the interview. Gray said that he didn’t get paid at all … it was for charity. “I wasn’t going to be the only going to be paid,” Gray said.
Everyone involved was using everyone else for their own ends to produce what amounted to a massive orgy that they all came to regret the next day. And LeBron was just the inflatable fuck toy in the middle of it all. So to speak. Gray explains in the book that the idea was born at Game 2 of the L.A.-Boston finals, when he spoke to Maverick Carter, CEO of James’s marketing company, and talent agent Ari Emanuel. Gray asked Carter if he could have the first interview with James after he had made The Decision, which at that point was still just a decision.
After ESPN donated an hour to the “cause,” Gray felt more and more distanced from the planning. He says he informed ESPN producer Bob Rauscher that he would ask “ten or twelve questions before we get to the big one” and that he “gave him an idea of almost all the questions.” According to Gray, Rauscher gave him the green light, and Gray insists all the questions were “very legitimate.” (He regrets the “throwaway line” about nail biting.)
JIM GRAY: …by the end of the conversation, I said, ‘Better yet, Maverick, why don’t we do this: Why don’t we go buy an hour of network time, you produce the show, you own the show, I get to do the interview, and you have LeBron make the announcement of where he’s going to go.’ Before I got the last three words out of my mouth, Ari said, ‘That’s a brilliant idea. That’s unbelievable. Maverick, you ought to do that!’ Then Maverick looked at Ari and said, ‘Okay. You want to handle it?’ Ari said, ‘Yeah, that’s great, let’s do this.’ Maverick then said, ‘You know what, we can raise a bunch of money for charity, so that no one will think LeBron is going to profit from this.’ Then Maverick told me to stay in touch with him, And Ari, and that was that.
J.R. Moehringer’s article on LeBron James in the September issue of GQ created quite a stir. But I couldn’t help but ask Moehringer how the heck LeBron picked Jim Gray to conduct the interview. My God, he’s one of the biggest idiots in the business. “LeBron’s known him for a long time,” Moehringer said. “Jim interviewed him when he was in high school. So there was a comfort factor. LeBron’s known him since he was a kid. That counts for a lot with LeBron. Jim Gray was someone he trusted. “It also was Jim Gray’s idea. He proposed it to LeBron’s people courtside at the NBA Finals. Since it was his idea, he was the man to do the interview. People have just dumped all kinds of abuse on Jim Gray, but I don’t think anybody would have wanted to be in that director’s chair. That was like being the captain on the Titanic. It was doomed from the start.”
Gray has often excelled as a sideline reporter, where real news is a rarity and the premium is on asking cogent and tough questions of players and coaches. Gray never seems to be having as much fun as say, Turner’s Craig Sager, and he is likelier than most to make some of his subjects uncomfortable with his questions. “He’s a bulldog,” said Mike Breen, his friend and the lead N.B.A. announcer for ESPN and ABC. “He’s not simply trying to report stories, he’s trying to break news, and he does it with an unbelievable Rolodex.”
A source told The Post that Gray had helped save his job as host of Westwood One radio’s pregame Monday Night Football show by personally soliciting ad sponsorship from the University of Phoenix. That cyber university’s logo and donation of scholarships to the Boys and Girls Club of America were highlighted during Thursday’s ESPN show.
LeBron James paid the “journalist” who interviewed the hoops megastar for the ESPN special that revealed his decision to sign with the Miami Heat, it was revealed yesterday. Jim Gray, a freelance sports reporter, was paid by an entity set up by James’ marketing team, not by ESPN — a fact not disclosed to the sports network’s viewers during Thursday’s softball interview, CNBC reported.