The $500 bounty for dunking on LeBron

The $500 bounty for dunking on LeBron

In 2009 Jordan Crawford was one of many young players trying to get noticed before the NBA draft. His career so far was decent, but he needed to stand out to make it to the NBA. Alongside players like Isaiah Thomas and Avery Bradley, he attended Nike’s Deron Williams Skills Academy. His performance there earned him the opportunity to go to The LeBron James Skills Academy in Akron, Ohio. As if going there wasn’t enough, the participants got news of something exciting.  (via Uproxx)

“We heard LeBron was going to bring in a bunch of NBA guys, so that’s kind of what we were looking forward to.”

In a first-to-seven scrimmage, LeBron’s squad was playing against the college kids when Crawford did something that made the internet explode. He drove to the basket, blew by his man so LeBron rotated to contest his drive. Then this happened.

Crawford said he didn’t think much of it until he got to his room and had a lot of missed calls and texts on his phone. This was big. The video quality reminds us that technology was different back in 2009, but it wasn’t just the iPhone 3GS era that contributed to this.

There was a better angle of the poster, but Nike confiscated the video. Ryan Miller videotaped the dunk, but Nike Basketball senior director Lynn Merrit confiscated the tape. In a later explanation, Nike said it was against policy to let anyone tape the games and they were just following procedure. Then Miller came out with a few details that shine a different light:

Miller said he had been filming all day and had his tapes confiscated only after Crawford’s dunk over James. “LeBron called Lynn over and told him something,” Miller told CBSSports.com. “That’s how I knew his name was Lynn. LeBron said, ‘Hey, Lynn. Come here.’ “Minutes later, Miller said Merritt demanded his tape.

One of the reasons LeBron’s image is so polished in public is the level of control about his image. He controls everything. We can’t have a video of a young kid dunking on him. The same reason he doesn’t take last-second shots in regular-season games – it would ruin his percentage. After the criticism about the confiscation got loud enough, LeBron addressed it (in a controlled environment)

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LeBron's response to Crawford posterizing him

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Ten years later Crawford remembers the attention it got but was mad that his entire week was overlooked because of a single dunk. He did recall Nike reps setting a $500 bounty for dunking on LeBron (via Uproxx).

“They never gave me my $500.”