ESPN Special: The Decision
|Posted:||July 8, 2015|
|Broadcast date:||July 8, 2010|
Watched by over 10 million fans, this special on ESPN caused a ruckus and controversy in the basketball community—one athlete announces to the world what team he'll sign with next season. That's it. What's interesting was on that very same day, President Obama announced his plans for the country on national television as well, but millions would rather watch what team "The King" will play for (the 2010-2011 NBA season, that is). Nevertheless, this page is not discussing the whys and the why nots of how LeBron could've handled his decision, let alone providing any analysis thereof. One thing to note, by the way: this is the program where the phrase, "[In this fall], I'm going to take my talents to...." has become a meme among sports fans and others alike.
ESPN's special is not without a nice package of graphics used for this program. Judging by the entire broadcast, most graphics you'll see here seem to be designed and used only once. As far as I know and have watched, I've never seen any of these graphical modifications used again (if so, possibly a second time and that was it). To celebrate (should it even be a "celebration?") a good five years since that program made South Beach—Miami, Florida—on Cloud Nine, while leaving fans on LeBron's hometown of Cleveland, Ohio in ailing despair, here's a look at the neat graphics used for the show.
|Fading in and panning to the right, a shot of ESPN's logo. Not a very common introduction from ESPN, which must mean....|
|....it's an ESPN Special! Panning right with the ESPN logo is the word "SPECIAL" featuring each letter pivoting in its center axis, right to left, unveiling the letters. The shot also partially shows the title of the special below those words. And that title of this special is....|
|....The Decision! Right away, there's an image of LeBron to represent the main subject of this broadcast with a soft fade-in. Under a simply-built arch with lights on the beams is a simple, animated title "THE DECISION" with the letter outlines—strokes—sliding back as a 'Title Unveil.' Very simple but it works. If you look closely, strokes like the letter "E" on "THE" is wrapping around the letter, completing the wrap before sliding back.|
|SportsCenter uses, or used to use, this graphical environment a lot. What's different is the presentation starting from the bottom. If you look closely, the very back features NBA team logos under the metal gears and rotating cylinders. As the camera pans up, you see, what I call, the "solo subject monitor," showing the NBA logo. After, you see three curved widescreen monitors featuring quick clips of LeBron. When SportsCenter uses this environment, it's usually two monitors to present a "Team versus Team" matchup. The unique thing about it is the live transition without any cuts, using the camera to twist upside down and presenting the metal molded text, "Summer of 2010 - LeBron James." I liked this a lot; Great work.|
|Same as the previous one, except the monitors show clips of other players—Dwyane Wade, Carlos Boozer, Chris Bosh, Dirk Nowitzki, Joe Johnson—and a quick shot of LeBron James. As it stops to the metal-molded text, it says "Summer of 2010" without LeBron's name on it. This was used as a fade out to commercial, but I don't mind watching the same environment again. And again. And again. And again....|
|To be honest, I don't ever remember seeing this graphic being used. Look carefully and you'll see "unfinished" buildings in the background, which tells me this was whipped up in a flash. To make up for it was the camera heading inside what looks like an outdoor basketball court atop a cylindrical structure with rotary glow lights, all while showing a quick glance of the large monitor showing the title logo of ESPN Special: The Decision. Still nice, however. Sort of rivals that city-like environment shown on the NFL Network.|
|ESPN used this for quite a while with their text presentation. Here you see two almost-half crescent-like graphic moving opposite one another to unveil the text before quickly fading out. Any Photoshop veterans may immediately recognize the color gradients used for the text: the default black and white you always get when applying a gradient to your project(s). Nothing wrong with that, I think the graphics manager, or QC manager, wanted something simple and quick. As you can tell, the text unveiling shows "Dwyane Wade Miami Heat" to coincide with the Stuart Scott's talking about free agents. (Rest peacefully well, Stuart Scott. Been a fan of your NBA analysis ever since.)|
Now THIS is a graphic you don't often see. Let me say this: those pothole-like "abyss" reminds me of those platforms used on the defunct TV game show Russian Roulette on Game Show Network (instead of guns, they "drop" contestants who lose which is quite amusing). Anyway, those platforms open up to unveil an HD monitor turned at a 90° clockwise position showing images of LeBron "rockin' various threads," as Stuart Scott said. The image below is a screenshot of the whole presentation (too long and too large a file to create a GIF out of it).
In all fairness, LeBron had six teams interested in him. The one missing on this graphical presentation? The Los Angeles Clippers. Looks like they *knew* LeBron wasn't going to LA....according to sources....
This isn't new but a lot of TV networks use this as an opportunity for extra advertising. Here are HD "fillers"—a broadcast graphic that digitally covers up the extra space to compensate for clips/footage/videos/flashbacks shown in the 4:3 ratio. While some TV networks convert 4:3 video into 16:9, which produces a loss in quality, ESPN decided to use this HD "filler" to show a clear, clean shot of footage, credited to WEWS, of an angry fan burning LeBron James' jersey in reaction to his decision playing in South Beach. Also, ESPN thought it's a great opportunity to quickly advertise for another event. It's hard to read on this GIF but that little square is an ad for FIFA World Cup: South Africa 2010 - Through July 11.
If you forgot about this, Mike Wilbon asked LeBron's reaction to the burning of his jersey. LeBron said, "Well I mean..I can't get involved in that. You know, one thing I didn't want to do is to make an emotional decision."