The Associated Press recently published an article about the video taken away from me at the LeBron James Skills Academy, with Nike's response included.
The AP recently contacted me as well, and although The Orange Segment doesn't have any spokespeople or representatives, here's the "official statement" I sent them. I made sure to have my AP Stylebook—a Newhouse School requirement—handy. I'll be posting some humorous anecdotes from the experience shortly:
Thank you for the email. I would be glad to give you some info:
I attended the LeBron James Skills Academy for my sports blog and to shoot players and interviews for ESPNU.
I arrived at the camp on Monday afternoon and immediately checked in with media relations to ask the rules and regulations regarding filming interviews and players at the camp because I didn't want to violate any policies or film in areas of the gym that were not permitted. They told me to stick to the sideline and baseline, and that all of the sessions/games were open for taping. I began taping around 3:00 p.m.
LeBron James arrived with a few of his Cleveland Cavaliers and high school teammates to play pick-up games with the college players in the evening. ESPNU had requested any shots of LeBron I could get, and being a recent college graduate looking for work, I didn't want to let them down.
I got a few shots of James stretching and interacting with the high school campers before he took the court. I primarily took isolation shots of James, not entire game footage.
In one of the scrimmages, Jordan Crawford, a junior from Xavier, drove past Cavaliers rookie Danny Green. James came over to help on defense, jumped with Crawford, and Crawford finished with a slam. I don't even know how well I shot the play.
James's team won that game but lost the following contest. I thought it was a good time to introduce myself to James. We have a mutual friend (as weird as that sounds) and he was very approachable. Seconds later, he walked up to Lynn Merritt (Nike Basketball Senior Director) and spoke with him. Merritt approached me, telling me to take a seat in a chair, said that I wasn't supposed to be filming, and kept repeating to a media relations representative, "Take his tape."
He didn't give me a clear-cut reason why, but did mention that "these guys shouldn't be filmed when they're not in shape" and "we don't want your stuff ending up on the Internet." I do not know for a fact they wanted it because it could have had footage of the dunk.
I politely asked him if I could at least keep the 15 minutes of high school footage I shot, but he demanded the tape. Merritt told me he saw me filming for at least 15 minutes (I probably had seven or eight minutes of footage since LeBron entered the building). I asked why he didn't just ask me when he first saw me filming, because I gladly would've stopped, sat down and taken notes instead. He didn't want to listen to my line of reasoning.
The media relations official took me aside and said he would give me the tape back in the morning. He just wanted to pacify the Nike executives and hopefully they'd cool off about it. I also didn't want to be banned for the last two days of the camp. Those are the only reasons I complied and handed the tape over.
I tweeted about the dunk and tape being taken, but it wasn't until CBSSports.com and FoxSports.com writers wrote a couple of online articles that it gained publicity. I didn't anticipate or seek out the media explosion that followed.
In the media policy from the camp, there is no mention of restrictions against shooting the NBA players. I was filming all afternoon and evening without objection until the dunk and LeBron's team lost. Here is the link to the media policy:
Thanks and I hope this helps.
Shortly after, I sent an addendum e-mail after seeing a new quote from a Nike spokesperson:
Sorry for another email, but I just noticed the Nike spokesperson's quote about an "after-hours" pick-up game.
The game was not after-hours, it was during the regularly scheduled "College Workout #3" portion of the LeBron James Skills Academy. That session ran from 8:30-10:15 on Monday night and the filming took place during that designated time slot.
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