Ryan Miller's Final Shot

July, 24, 2009
7/24/09
11:47
AM ET

Ryan Miller is a recent graduate of Syracuse University, where he was a standout sportswriter. He's also done some solid work as a correspodent for ESPNU on fellow Oranges Jonny Flynn and Paul Harris. You probably know him best as the videographer at LeBron James' Skills Academy whose tape of "the dunk" was taken by a media relations rep at the event.

UPDATE: Nike has announced the company is finally returning the confiscated videos.

It's been a wild couple of weeks for Miller, who shares his final thoughts on the ordeal for TrueHoop

Had 30 Fox high-definition cameras captured Babe Ruth's "called shot" at-bat in the 1932 World Series or a Flip Cam recorded Rosie Ruiz jumping out of a crowd in the Boston Marathon, their legends would cease to challenge our imagination.

Jordan Crawford's dunk sparked the intrigue of sports fans because of the unknown.

Did a college kid who sat out last season really dunk on King James' crown? If Nike felt the need to confiscate tapes, it must've been a vicious slam, right?

The curiosity virally disseminated throughout the media. "LeBron James gets dunked on" was the eighth highest Google search on July 9 even though that might not be too telling because "big green egg" was No. 5. But the dunk would never have been a big deal if Nike didn't make it one.

A would-be 24 hour YouTube sensation had Nike not tried to keep the footage from getting out escalated into a public relations nightmare for the corporate giant, catapulting a solid but innocuous dunk into a legend that couldn't possibly live up reality.

Crawford would've had to go Vince Carter and leapfrog King James, Patrick Chewing and pulverize the backboard, or even WGN sports reporter with a slew of taunts that sent LeBron off the court in tears for the throwdown to live up to expectations.

Instead, some fans were disappointed with a run-of-the-mill dunk as LeBron helped late on defense, not a wind-mill so powerful James was knocked to the floor. Hopefully now everyone can move on from the LeBron James dunk controversy.

Fortunately for James, the media has already moved on. Unfortunately for James, they have moved on to hisadmitting to smoking marijuana in high school in a new book that chronicles his rise to stardom. 

As soon as TMZ and eBaumNation released the dunk footage, the emails came pouring in (which I'm thankful for because I'm terrified of my cell phone and texting bill this month): Do you know whose footage it is? Do you know how much the companies paid for it? Are you upset it a shot of the dunk was leaked?

There was obviously a strong desire by the public to see the dunk, and I was just happy for that to be fulfilled.

The Sporting News has discovered TMZ shelled out $3,000 for their shot and eBaumNation paid $5,000 for the crisper video.

In Nike's attempt to censor the dunk within credentialed media, the footage might have come from within the Nike camp. Excluding media, the only other people in the building were the athletes, coaches, camp staff and camp volunteers (many of which were University of Akron students). 

Ironically, it could have very well been someone from Nike's own camp that sold the tapes.

Personally, I wasn't upset over any potential financial loss, because had Nike not tried to cover-up the dunk, the tape would have had minimal value.

From a journalistic standpoint, I was clearly within my rights to film at the camp and was displeased Nike deemed it necessary and felt the entitlement to take personal property from credentialed media, then claim the pick-up game was an ?after-hours? event, even though it was during the regularly scheduled "College Workout #3" portion of the LeBron James Skills Academy.

Nike made a mistake, but its youth camps are helping the game of basketball grow across internationally, and I hope to still be admitted to Nike events in the future. Hopefully this incident will not discourage Nike or NBA players from being hands-on at these camps, because that's what makes them special.

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