BOSTON ( TheStreet) -- LeBron James gave up $30 million to go chase a title, among other things, with Dwyane Wade and Chris Bosh in South Beach. The repercussions of that decision will be far more costly.Taken alone, James leaving the Cleveland Cavaliers for the Miami Heat isn't worthy of the scorn that's been heaped upon it this morning. As the dateline should have indicated, this column originates from a city where Celtics star Paul Pierce played Wade's role three years ago in wooing Kevin Garnett and Ray Allen to town with the promise of a title. That trio brought home the NBA Championship in its first year together and spurred the ensuing arms race that sent Paul Gasol to Los Angeles as added firepower for Kobe Bryant and moved Vince Carter from Jersey to America's vacation capital for a shot at glory with Dwight Howard and the Orlando Magic. The same idea paved James' move to Miami, but important deviations in that travel plan have led both him and his corporate remoras astray. The first casualty was Disney's ( DIS) ESPN, which sold its soul and roughly four hours of its air time (including a SportsCenter so long that it should have ended with an elderly Kate Winslet throwing a blue diamond pendant into the water and mourning Leonardo DiCaprio) to James and the poor, downtrodden children of Greenwich, Conn. -- a ramshackle community where median home prices languish at $1.8 million and the disheveled masses somehow manage a living on a meager $82,000-a-year household income. For one night, the same network that had been doing a great job actually covering sports for the past month during the World Cup became James' personal public-relations machine and made the sympathetic documentary series it gave Barry Bonds during the BALCO drug scandal look like the Pentagon Papers. ESPN drew more than 18 million viewers for its "Decision" special, but for a network whose objectivity is already questioned by fans who sense East Coast bias with every overhyped Yankees-Red Sox series and its own ombudsman who sensed bias in its coverage of Texas Tech coach Mike Leach's firing (while basically turning his head and whistling about vuvuzelas on the day of James' special), the loss of credibility can cut deep.
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