James and Wade Have Novel Approach to Media Interaction

By Cam Martin Comment

The New York Times examines the interesting and novel dynamic that LeBron James and Dwyane Wade have created in dealing with the media, as the two Miami Heat superstars always interview side-by-side in an effort to maintain togetherness.

When James speaks, Wade listens. When Wade makes a point, James nods. When a question to Wade is deemed offensive, James grumbles or rolls his eyes. When an uncomfortable issue arises, the two exchange silent glances before one speaks on behalf of both.

The Heat superstars insisted on joint postgame interviews from the moment they became teammates last fall. In recent months, they have extended the policy to practice days and morning shootarounds, with rare exceptions.

The strategy is unprecedented, and mildly chilling to the information-gathering process. Reporters assigned regularly to the Heat must walk a fine line as they try to explore the delicate dynamics between two of the N.B.A.’s most electrifying players.

This is, of course, what Wade and James want. They have confirmed as much, saying the setup is another way to support each other – to “have each other’s backs.”

Kathleen Hessert, the president of Sports Media Challenge, a reputation-management company based in Charlotte, N.C., called the practice “fascinating.” She added, “Frankly, I think it’s masterful. I really do. Because what they are doing is they are in fact influencing the outcome on the court and off.”

The tandem interview creates a challenge for reporters, Hessert said, “but I’m sure that’s what they intended.”

Brian Windhorst, who covers these diabolical Heatles for ESPN, agreed.

“It was more difficult for the media to probe any tensions that existed between the two, when the two were answering questions side by side.”

Still, the approach can backfire, as evidenced when Wade was asked if his take down of Rajon Rondo (who dislocated his elbow on the play) was dirty, and before Wade could answer, LeBron offered, “That’s retarded.”

James was referring to the question, not their buddy system for interviews. He later apologized.