'Crazy' time for LeBron cameraman
Ryan Miller was thrust into spotlight after shooting LeBron's getting dunked on
Bob Ley, ESPN scored with an "Outside the Lines" piece on the 2010 World Cup
Noted author Curt Smith describes what makes broadcaster Vin Scully special
Each week, SI.com's Richard Deitsch will report on newsmakers from the world of TV, radio and the Web.
THE DUNK YOU'LL NEVER SEE, cried the Los Angeles Times. The Las Vegas Sun offered a more cheeky synopsis: IF A DUNK FALLS IN LEBRON'S FACE -- AND A NIKE REP CONFISCATES THE FILM -- DID IT REALLY HAPPEN?
Indeed, it did. In a story that has since morphed into the basketball version of Big Foot, the Loch Ness Monster and UFOs in Roswell, Xavier's Jordan Crawford dunked on James last week at Nike's LeBron James Skills Academy at the University of Akron. The dunk was filmed by a pair of freelance videographers, but before the world could see Crawford's YouTube moment, Nike officials confiscated the tapes. You probably know what happened next: The story was reported by CBSSports.com writer Gary Parrish and LeBron-gate quickly went viral. The New York Times described the company's heavy-handedness as "channeling media tactics straight out of North Korea." Plenty of others have weighed in, including an interesting take from TrueHoop's Henry Abbott.
Ryan Miller watched the story play out and remains stunned by it all. He's a 22-year-old Syracuse University graduate who still lives with his parents in Rochester, N.Y. He's also the videographer who shot the tape of the Crawford dunk.
"It's been a crazy week, but now I really need to get back to regular life and look for a job," said Miller, who graduated in May with a broadcast journalism degree and a minor in public policy and entrepreneurship.
Miller worked at the camp as a credentialed media member for Syracuse.com, which covers news in central New York. Before arriving in Akron -- the trip from Rochester cost him $150, including food and gas for his 1995 Honda Civic -- Miller called some contacts at ESPNU who told him they would be interested in some B-roll footage. He was working solely for the experience -- an unpaid gig. Then came the dunk, the removal of the tape by Nike and a kid becoming part of a major story.
During the past week, Miller has done some print, radio and TV interviews, though he drew the line when Inside Edition requested him. He also blogged about what happened. Miller believes he is the rightful owner of the footage.
"I'm not sure if I should give them a call to see if I can get some information about whether the tape is gone or whether I'll get it back," he said. "I was thinking about giving them a call in the next few days, but I'm not sure how receptive they will be."
Miller said he been contacted by lawyers but is unlikely to pursue any legal channels to get the tape back. He says what he really wants is a job as a television or multimedia reporter. He is the first member of his family to earn a four-year college degree.
"Even though my name might be linked to this in the near future, hopefully I can make a name for myself for my journalism, reporting or an on-air presence," he said.
As for the dunk, like most folklore, the reality is far from the legend.
"The mystique of this dunk has built up so much," Miller said. "To be completely honest with you, if there was video of the dunk, and I honestly don't even know how well I shot it, there is just no way that dunk can exceed the expectations that have been built up around it."
On Sunday's Outside the Lines, host Bob Ley examined South Africa's readiness one year out from the World Cup, a story reported on site from Soweto and Cape Town. Shoots such as these can be logistically treacherous, not to mention the long hours put in by a staff far from home. Full marks go to features producer Nancy Devaney, who won't be seen on camera but whom Ley said was a vital part of an informative and visually sumptuous 30 minutes of broadcast journalism. Devaney has been with ESPN for 12 years.
NBC averaged 5.71 million viewers for Roger Federer's win over Andy Roddick, the most for a Wimbledon final since the Pete Sampras-Andre Agassi match in 1999 (5.85 million).
ESPN's college football announcing lineup was released to much fanfare in the sports blogosphere. You can see the lineups here. It's been said before in this space: As an admirer of the always professional Ron Franklin (and his partner Ed Cunningham), it's a shame he doesn't get more high-profile assignments.
Last week, the noted tennis observer Jason Whitlock compared Serena Williams to Paris Hilton and said the 11-time Grand Slam singles champion would rather eat and "half-ass her way through non-major tournaments" than fulfill her destiny. "With a reduction in glut, a little less butt and a smidgen more guts, Serena Williams would easily be as big as Michael Jackson, dwarf Tiger Woods and take a run at Rosa Parks," Whitlock wrote.
I'd take this column a bit more seriously if I'd seen Whitlock at one of the dozen U.S. Opens I've covered. Or any of the major tennis tournaments around the globe. One of Serena's hitting partners once told me that during practice she worked as hard as anyone he'd ever worked with. Any person who covers the sport regularly will tell you Serena has the most will of any women's player in the last 10 years. Whitlock calls out Williams for not being a single-minded tennis assassin. I'd argue that because she's not a single-minded tennis drone, she's avoided the burnout that has hit so many of the sports top players (Jennifer Capriati, Andrea Jaeger, etc.). Williams has won matches when she's fit and when she's been less than fit. Her 11 major titles have come in an era where she had to beat future Hall of Famers Lindsay Davenport, Martina Hingis and Justine Henin, as well as her sister Venus. Margaret Court rolled up 11 Australian Open titles (she finished her career with 24 major wins) against suspect competition. Serena's 11 majors in this era is a weighty number.
"Embrace who you are, enjoy, live a healthy lifestyle and love who you are, no matter what you look like," Serena told reporters last Friday in New York when asked about the Whitlock column. Venus Williams offered a more humorous response in Philadelphia: "Who is Jason Whitlock?" Venus asked. "Is he an athlete?" Told he was a columnist, she replied: "Oh, I don't read the press." Alas, we do.