Walter Iooss Jr. Wasn’t Allowed to Speak to LeBron James
Walter Iooss Jr., a Sports Illustrated photographer for 50 years, provided an excellent career retrospetive in the most recent edition of SI. The whole piece can be found here and is well worth the read.
But if you’re going to focus on any one point as a Cleveland fan, this is it:
LeBron [James] became a villain to many after The Decision. I’ve seen a lot of entourages, but none like his. In July 2010 I got an assignment from Nike to shoot LeBron right after his TV special announcing his move to the Heat. We rented the Los Angeles Memorial Sports Arena, where the Lakers and the Clippers used to play, and there were 53 people on my crew-including hair and makeup artists, production people, a stylist. I had $10,000 in Hollywood lighting. It was huge. When LeBron arrived, it was as if Nelson Mandela had come in. Six or seven blacked-out Escalades pulled up, a convoy. LeBron had bodyguards and his masseuse. His deejay was already there, blasting. This for a photo shoot that was going to last an hour, tops.
This is how crazy it was: I wasn’t even allowed to talk directly to LeBron. There was a liaison, someone from Amar’e Stoudemire’s family. I would say to him, “O.K., have LeBron drive right,” and then he’d turn to LeBron and say, “LeBron, go right.”
LeBron had guards in the portals on the mezzanine level, talking into their hands. Really, what was going to happen? And then at the end of the shoot they all got in the Escalades. My God, I’ve been around Michael Jordan, but with him nothing even came close to this. Unimaginable.
Iooss had the honor of shooting James in 2003 when he was a rookie with the Cavaliers. At this time, the long-time photog coined james as “articulate and charming.”
Talk about a transformation.
The mystery at the core of sports lies in the lives of its fans. What stokes all that unrequited fire and devotion and wanting? In a world rotten with mercenaries, free agents and betrayal, whom do we trust? Who rewards our purity? Our passion? Who reciprocates our madness? What price do we pay for loyalty or honor? For inspiration? For services rendered? How much cash should we leave on the nightstand?
No matter what you’ve heard or read, these are the questions at the broken heart of Scott Raab’s memoir and confessional, “The Whore of Akron.”
Mr. Raab, a senior writer from Esquire and a Clevelander to his chromosomes, takes up that city’s sad abandonment by one LeBron James. The book is both poem and polemic, a lyrical inventory of rage and appetite and loss.
The book is easily misunderstood. It is not for the prim, the delicate or the weak-livered. Because the book is honest. The book is strong drink. Because profane explains sacred, the book is a punch in the nose.
Because the book is a book about love. ESPN columnist Jeff MacGregor on Scott Raab’s “The Whore of Akron”