By now, you've heard it: LeBron James played poorly because he found his mother was sleeping with his teammate. We've put together a handy timeline to help you trace how ludicrous email forward gained traction.
Thursday, May 13 The Cavaliers are shockingly eliminated from the playoffs. For the first three games of the series, LeBron James shot .541 from the field. For the last three, just .340. Clearly, there must be an explanation.
"His elbow is injured," "the Celtics were a better team," and "he just had some off nights that happen to everyone" are floated as possibilities, but soon discarded because they are not sexy enough.
Friday, May 14, 11:00 a.m. Emails start coming in to the Deadspin tips desk, alleging a relationship between LeBron's mother Gloria, and teammate Delonte West. Through the course of the day, they go from vague, to more detailed. A snapshot of the progression:
word on the street here in Cleveland is that LeBron found out prior to Game 4 against Boston that Delonte West has been bangin his mom Gloria for some time now.....thus destroying our chemistry
From a friend of mine (no info on the source, of course):
12:22:56 i find this hard to believe but... From a source in the Cavaliers front office. Delonte West (Lebron's teammate) has been hooking up with Gloria James (Lebron's Mom!!) for some time now. Somehow I guess Lebron found out before game four and it has destroyed the teams chemistry and divided the team. This is no joke, the only player worse then Lebron has been Delonte. I am not making this up, I wish it wasn't true but it happened. Wait and see if lebron stays you will not see Delonte in a cavs uni again
A friend sent me this bit about 20 minutes ago. He knows someone who works at a law firm that deals with sports litigation - David Stern was a partner there.
"From a source in the Cavaliers front office. Delonte has been hooking up with Gloria James (Lebron's mom) for some time now. Somehow I guess Lebron found out before game four and it has destroyed the teams chemistry and divided the team. This is no joke, the only player worse then Lebron has been Delonte. I am not making this up, I wish it wasn't true but it happened. Wait and see if lebron stays you will not see Delonte in a cavs uni again"
A rumor I picked up from mydad and his friends in Cleveland. Don't know if you have seen or heard this one:
My uncle is the general contractor at the Q and has been for the last 7 years. He is good friends with a lot of guys at the Q including some of the bigger boys in the organization and knows Gilbert personally. I was just told from my brother that a very reliable source informed my uncle that Delonte has been banging Gloria James for some time now. Somehow I guess Lebron found out before game four and it has destroyed our chemistry and divided our team. This is no joke, the only player worse then Lebron has been Delonte. I am not making this up, I wish it wasn't true but it happened. Wait and see if lebron stays you will not see Delonte in a cavs uni again.
A large number of NBA employees received a VERY interesting email today regarding a developing LeBron James story. I figured before the ESPN assholes get wind of it, you guys should break the story. The word from David Stern's office is that Delonte West has been sleeping with LeBron's MOTHER for a couple months now, and LeBron has recently found out. For some reason Delonte is still alive, but not for long - when Cleveland fans find out that for this reason LeBron wants out of Cleveland no matter what. This could explain Delonte's decreased playing time of late, and who knows - maybe why LeBron hasn't seemed to have his head fully in the game.
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Friday, May 14, 1:30 p.m. Sports gossip site Terez Owens runs this item:
In what is truly a disturbing story, comes exclusive Terez Owens news that LeBron's teammate Delonte West is sleeping with LeBron's Mother Gloria James..Yes, this is the purported story coming from my source in Cleveland..My source explains the following.
"My uncle is the general contractor at the Q and has been for the last 7 years. He's good friends with a lot of guys at the Q, including some of the bigger boys in the organization and knows Dan Gilbert personally.My uncle has been told that Delonte has been banging Gloria James (Lebron's Mom) for some time now. Somehow Lebron found out before game four and it destroyed their chemistry and divided the team. I am not making this up, I wish it wasn't true but it happened. ."
It is, verbatim, taken from the chain emails circulating; though by calling it "exclusive" and claiming it comes from "[his] source in Cleveland," it gains legitimacy in the eyes of those who don't understand how this thing works, or just want to believe it.
Friday, May 14, 3:40 p.m. Other sites, like Barstool Sports and this random Blogspot page, pick up on the story. Despite the fact that they are simply linking to Terez Owens's post, it is now considered a full-fledged Internet story.
Friday, May 14, 5:20 p.m. Deadspin weighs in, pointing out the similarity between this rumor, and past rumors of teammate infidelity after bad losses.
Saturday, May 15 Despite our best efforts, the story is now widespread. Charlie Villanueva Tweets, "Just heard a rumor, say it aint so Delonte."
Tuesday, May 18 Terez Owens receives a cease-and-desist letter from LeBron James's attorney. It says, in part, that the rumor is "categorically false and per se defamatory," and that "no thinking person could possibly believe such rubbish." Terez Owens responds by saying he never claimed the original report was true.
Tuesday, May 18 The Cavs' VP of Communications, Tad Carper responds to a media inquiry from Deadspin. He leaves a terse voicemail. Carper and Crashtern continue to play phone tag.
Wednesday, May 19 Calvin Murphy, who could not dig up a character witness for his own trial for allegedly molesting 5 of his 14 children, goes on a sports talk radio show. He says that the Delonte West/Gloria James story is "absolutely true," that he's got multiple sources, and that West wasn't the only person intimately involved with James's mother.
Terez Owens cites this as confirmation.
Thursday, May 20 Something called Juiced Sports "reports" more details, including that LeBron came back to his hotel room after a night out in Boston to find West and his mother together. This allegedly comes from from a trustworthy source, who also reported that Mike Brown would be fired today. (The Cavs announced this morning they will not decide Brown's future until next week at the earliest.)
Friday, May 21 The story reaches the mainstream — sort of. LeBron James's advisor Maverick Carter speaks to the media, saying that all the rumors out there about James are completely false. He does not elaborate, but the ESPN story only mentions the John-Calipari-as-handpicked-coach rumor.
And that's where we stand today. Only one thing is for certain: if the fine people of Cleveland wanted to drive LeBron out of town, I can't think of a better way than to propagate a rumor like this.