The billboards in question were erected in Akron, Ohio poking fun at James for not thanking Miami for the fan support during his four seasons on the Miami Heat. Displaying title rings to represent the two championships James won while on the Heat, the billboards read “You’re welcome LeBron / Love, Miami.”
— Billy Corben (@BillyCorben) August 6, 2014
James is returning to the Cleveland Cavaliers, a team to which he wrote a thank-you letter when he left for Miami. LeBatard’s message is meant to point out that Miami didn’t get a similar message.
Although LeBatard has said publicly that all of this is meant as a joke, ESPN isn’t laughing. The network issued a statement to USA Today, explaining its choice to suspend LeBatard:
“Dan LeBatard will be off the air for two days, returning Monday. His recent stunt does not reflect ESPN’s standards and brand. Additionally, we were not made aware of his plans in advance.”
So why did LeBatard do it? According to a message published in the Miami Herald before the suspension, the sports host cited “fun anarchy” as the motivation.
“It’s just fun anarchy. All meant in fun — which, of course, will turn into Cleveland people getting filled with rage, poison and irrational hostility and want to use those billboards as a guillotine,” he says. “Sports are so great, the more irrational the better. This is a publicity stunt disguised as a movement. Please don’t tell anyone there is no actual movement.”