National Basketball Players’ Association Executive Director Michele Roberts recently called locker room access for media “an incredible invasion of privacy.” LeBron James definitely, definitely knows what she means.
According to Chris Haynes of Northeast Ohio Media Group, immature reporters have snapped semi-nude photos of the four-time MVP following the Cleveland Cavaliers’ past two games.
After Sunday’s 123-108 win over Orlando, James was sitting at his locker stall with his head down as he scrolled through his cell phone. All he had on was a towel around his waist, so obviously he wasn’t quite ready to address the media.
Respecting his privacy, members of the media either gave him 10 feet of space or interviewed other players until he was prepared to interact.
Then all of a sudden James looked up with a baffled expression plastered on his face and signaled over a team official. Those who saw how his demeanor abruptly changed were curious to what had occurred…
“That’s not cool, man,” James said. “I don’t miss anything.”
This person denied taking the photo and was able to manipulate his phone gallery in such a way that buried the most recent pictures taken. He got away, but others were not so successful the very next night in Miami.
Following a 106-92 loss to the Heat on Monday, James was addressing the media at his stall. On this occasion he spoke to the contingent immediately and had not gotten dressed yet. A towel was all he had on at that moment.
In the back of the scrum surrounding him, two media members in plain view were rapidly snapping photos of James with their phones while he was answering questions. This time team personnel caught the suspects in the act and removed them from the locker room.
Haynes noted that this problem has followed James all season long and only intensified after recent games.
League rules prohibit media members from taking still-photography in the locker room, but that’s even beside the point here. It’s remarkably unprofessional for reporters to document players while the subjects aren’t openly engaging with them, whether it’s a casual, off-record conversation between teammates or a TMZ-style photo.
Media members are lucky that the league gives them such sweeping access to players, and that most of them treat journalists with respect. This story only adds fuel to Roberts’ fire of limiting the number of reporters allowed in locker rooms. And while the players would surely appreciate a bit more privacy, coverage of the league at large would undoubtedly suffer as a result of less media interaction.
That’s certainly not what the fans want, and the NBA always bends over backwards to accommodate its patrons first and foremost. If the childish nonsense of which James has been victim continues, the actions of an immature few could render that thinking irrelevant as Roberts fights harder for player privacy.