Ever Want to Shoot LeBron? A Cautionary Tale...

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Dont talk to him — dont even look at him.
  • Don't talk to him — don't even look at him.

Walter Iooss Jr. has shot all the big stars as a photographer for Sports Illustrated and other prominent athlete-coddling outlets. In a recent series for Deadspin, Iooss shared his most memorable moments. And that single most memorable moment in a long and distinguished career? The run-in seared into his cranium like nothing he’d experienced with Tiger or Jordan or Ditka?

It was a photo shoot of LeBron James for Nike back in July 2010 — you remember that glitch in time; the moment the human being raised in our own backyard became a championship-chasing cyborg?

According to Iooss’ tale, the LeBron entourage of half a dozen Escalades rolled up to the Los Angeles Sports Arena in the days immediately following The Decision. That's where a photo crew of fifty-three awaited him, there to orchestrate every flashbulb and follicle and every fanciful whim imaginable.

“When LeBron arrived, it was as if Nelson Mandela had come in,” he recalls. Nelson Mandela with a DJ. And a masseuse. And, naturally, bodyguards. (Be fair … it was downtown L.A.) For a shoot scheduled to last one hour.

“This is how crazy it was,” Iooss says: “I wasn’t even allowed to talk directly to LeBron. There was a liaison … I would say to him, ‘OK, have LeBron drive right,” and the he’d turn to LeBron and say, “LeBron, go right.”

Our city and LeBron have captured no rings since then, but the winner in all this seems clearer every day.

Happy holidays to you, Cleveland, with a toast to team basketball and genuine human beings.

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