Gregg Doyel, CBSsports.com's cantankerous blowhard columnist had the good misfortune of tweaking LeBron at the post-game press conference Sunday night and, to many people, has become the poster child for the media's irrational hatred of LBJ and stupidty. Doyel, who's definitely done his fair share of grating columnist chest-thumping throughout his career, appears to be enjoying the notoriety. But look closer at how he's taken and embraced the criticism and you'll find a virtue most rare in today's media trough: self-awareness.
Remember the question Doyel irked Lebron with:
"Three games in a row for you, 4th quarter — not much. That's the moment superstars become superstars it seems like you're almost shrinking from it. What's going on?"
And LeBron, bless him, answered the damn thing as pointedly as the question was asked.
You can tell plenty about writers and media personalities once they become the story. Most become irrationally strident, paranoid with the idea that their careers will self-destruct if they don't stick up for their viewpoints no matter how wrong-headed and factually inaccurate they may be. And writers — especially sports writers — are notoriously thin-skinned. Show me a writer who doesn't obsessively search-engine themselves like a shivering junkie and you'll most likely be talking about a corpse. (Myself included.) But Doyel's deflections don't seem part of his formulated outlier schtick; there's an actual human being who knows that this job requires him to ask stupid questions from time to time, purposely or not. He's not just embracing the hate for the sake of a mailbag, but for the sake of his own sanity.
Considering LeBron's superstardom has been pored over since he was a teenager, The Question wasn't completely off-base, even if the Heat's victory and LeBron's two-way play suggest otherwise. Doyel admitted on a Houston radio interview that his approach could have been much better. And instead of doubling down on his anti-LeBron agenda with Around The Horn-like shlock, he genuinely praised LeBron's "charming, classy " response. So it appears the problem isn't really Doyel's query — he got a good answer, didn't he? — but more that he asked it in a televised press conference, where, the thinking goes, only a D-list Stuttering John would dare ask LeBron to critique his own mythology live on camera. So, who are the real Bayless clones here? The guy asking the question or the ones irrationally complaining about it so much?