In 2007 I watched from feet away as LeBron James enjoyed an evening at Pure at Caesars. I had no idea who the man was since I am not a sports fan. But the crowd sure knew. The audience kept taking pictures. And, James danced up a storm for them with himself as his only partner. He was surrounded by his security. For me the most amusing— until it became irritating— part was that his security was very focused on me. They would not let me walk past James who was standing next to the only staircase leading down to the main-floor where the accessible bathroom was located. I am just over five feet six inches, 43 years old, and need to make it to the gym more often. I was no possible danger to this man. But when I needed to go to the bathroom, James security would not let me near the great one or, unthinkable, move him out of my way. And, Pure did not care that James security was between myself and the only route out. If any stranger blocks my path physically, that should not be acceptable to club employees. But Pure was fine with James’ security touching, commanding and moving myself and other customers. Private celebrity security enjoying special privileges to handle other customers is SOP in Vegas and should stop. I wound up unable to go to the bathroom until I could find a Pure manager who had time to walk me past the James posse while gently massaging the ego of the security guard who had traced a line with his foot that I was not allowed to pass. And, that was when I left for the night.
Interestingly, a recent controversy over ESPN removing a story from their site by a reporter who watched James partying at Tao at Venetian, pretty much doing the same things I watched in 2007, reminded me of that night. So, I went looking for what I wrote. And, I see my own story, the title I seem to recall being “It Happened at Pure” which originally appeared in Las Vegas Weekly is no longer on the Web. That story focused on the narcissism and childishness of James, but also called out an embarrassing attempt by the then Pure staff club security to demand cash “tips” from me. In 2007 that part might have interested the IRS who were investigating the club (and, maybe still are). But it is worth noting that James has spent years behaving a certain way publicly in clubs all over Vegas and people are surprised. It has not been a secret. The wonder is that if people care so much (and, I have no idea why they should about an adult behaving legally) so few stories have been written on James as a Vegas nightclub regular (which he has been for years and remains). There is mine from 2007 (which vanished and really wasn’t focused on James at all) and another from ESPN in 2010 that made news (and, then also vanished). I don’t want to ascribe sinister motives to the fate of my story. It was online for years, and I don’t think there is a journalism law for how long a weekly must pay to keep up on the Internets old stories; a publication is not an archive if it chooses not to be. Yet, where are the many other James stories of years of identical behavior by James? People seemed amazed at the access ESPN got. But nightclub reporters in Vegas are stuck next to celebrities in the VIP section of clubs routinely. It is hard to hear in general but not impossible to pick up stray comments.
But you don’t need the stories. Just go to the next nightclub in Vegas James appears at. James hasn’t changed much in the past three years and it seems neither has the way he is covered.
(LeBron James at Pure in 2007, the night I watched him, courtesy Pure)