LeBron James is being pilloried for his big show on ESPN, but interviewer Jim Gray is taking his fair share of shots as well. Critics are blasting the normally tough Gray for his softball questions—a full 6 minutes' worth before getting around to asking James where he'll be playing, writes Howard Kurtz at the Washington Post. Gray is also angrily denying reports that he got paid by the James camp.
"I didn't take a penny from LeBron or any entity connected to him," Gray said, disputing this CNBC story as "totally false." He confirmed, however, that he pitched the idea of the show to James' representatives, who then pitched it to ESPN with the stipulation that Gray be the interviewer. Aside from a few hundred bucks in expenses (it's not clear who's paying), Gray insists he essentially worked for free. Whatever the details, it amounted to "staged journalism," as one critic put it.