LeBron James has held himself back from the “Greatest-Of-All-Time” debate about him and Michael Jordan, further fueled by ESPN’s “The Last Dance.”
But that changed on May 18 when James weighed in on his terms and on his media platform Uninterrupted.
James and partner Maverick Carter discussed the “The Last Dance” on Uninterrupted’s “WRTS: After Party” reaction show hosted by Paul Rivera. ESPN Films’ 10-part docu-series on Jordan’s Chicago Bulls dynasty concluded with episodes 9 and 10 on May 17.Both Carter and Rivera have dissected previous episodes of “Last Dance” on four earlier episodes of “After Party” with current and former basketball stars like Draymond Green of the Golden State Warriors, Chris Paul of the Oklahoma City Thunder, Carmelo Anthony of the Portland Trail Blazers, and Penny Hardaway. The first “After Party” episode on April 20 drew over 100,000 views on YouTube. The three subsequent episodes have drawn 24,000, 30,000, and 42,000 views, respectively.
But the star attraction is James weighing in on the G.O.A.T. debate of him vs. Jordan. With little to no live sports during the coronavirus pandemic, the James vs. Jordan discussion has consumed sports talk shows such as Mike Greenberg’s “Get Up” and Stephen A. Smith’s “First Take” on ESPN, and Skip Bayless’ “Undisputed” on FS1.
James’ decision to speak on his media “home court” shows he’s as savvy as a businessman as Jordan was during his 1990’s heyday, said Allen Adamson, a marketing consultant at Metaforce and adjunct professor at New York University’s Leonard N. Stern School of Business.
James was smart to hold off on ‘Last Dance” commentary, letting the anticipation build, Adamson said. By choosing his athlete empowerment brand, James will drive viewers and attention to Uninterrupted’s growing media platform.
“Letting it simmer was smart – then talking on your brand, and your own media channel, is smarter,” Adamson said. “With no real sports to watch, ‘The Last Dance’ has become the main event for many sports fans.”
Through the first eight episodes, ESPN is averaging 5.6 million viewers for “The Last Dance,” making it the network’s most-watched docu-series ever.