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Windhorst: LeBron James was headed to Miami for years

Jul 11, 2010, 11:30 AM EST

Brian Windhorst was the MVP of sports media from the time the NBA season ended, right up through the first two weeks of July (and going strong). The beat reporter for the Cleveland Plain-Dealer has been following LeBron James since he was in puberty, following the prolific modern athlete through high school, his decision to go pro, his drafting by the Cavs, his early development, the first time the Cavs made the playoffs, their run to the Finals, and their subsequent repeated heartbreaks. 

He was caught off guard by how quickly James’ demeanor changed once free agency started. He followed the process, all the while being open and honest about the information he received from his sources. And now, with the star-athlete he’s followed for a decade having abandoned his home state, Windhorst has laid out how this all went down. 
And it’s not pretty. 
Saturday, Windhorst released an article for the Plain-Dealer outlining the exact process from 2006 in the World Championships in Japan to signing-day on Friday in Miami, how the Heat were able to put together a team of three superstars. 
Just in case you’re finding it hard to come up with reasons to click through, here are a few gems:
  • Team USA played a huge part in this, as their experiences being together, playing together, and talking were what first brought the idea to them. 
  • The Knicks were primarily the ones who planted the possibility in Riley’s head and laid out the path to creating the cap room necessarily to pull this off. 
  • Riley set up a meeting between James and Michael Jordan last November, and talked about how modern players should “pay homage to Jordan.” That was the same night James announced he was switching jersey numbers out of respect. Riley had influence, as much as nine months ago. 
  • Wade went to meet with James and Bosh the last week of June to sell them on this idea. That would be the week before free agency started, when Wade was still a member of the Miami Heat, basically recruiting them to come to his team. The word you’re looking for is tampering. 
  • Most interesting from that visit, Windhorst reports that Wade was discouraged from making this pitch by Commissioner David Stern. With the way things have gone down, there has to be discussion of whether or not we’ll be seeing tampering charges brought upon the Heat. 
  • James was offered the same preferential treatment for him and his friends that he was given in Cleveland, so you can expect the same kind of crony-ism to continue. 
  • Windhorst also reports on why the Bulls and Knicks didn’t land James, which are predictable but still interesting. 
For Cleveland fans, it just adds to the feeling of being duped by James and drives the dagger deeper (at this point, the handle’s pretty much inside their heart, much less the blade). For the rest of the world, it shows that these three were serious from the beginning, about controlling their own fate, and manipulating events to bring about what they wanted, the chance to play together. 
A good old fashioned conspiracy. Even in the modern era. 
140 Comments (Feed for Comments)
  1. dave - Jul 11, 2010 at 6:51 PM

    and while your butthurt in cleveland you still wont have any titles or people that want to play for an owner that hates a player that quit on his team but wanted to resign him.
    You will call him names while hes wearing 3 rings before hes 30

  2. Nick - Jul 11, 2010 at 6:58 PM

    Answer my question, jackhole!
    Why would you cheer for him?

  3. terry - Jul 11, 2010 at 6:59 PM

    One thing that sticks in my head is the statement that the biggest reason Lebron rejected Chicago was the Bulls’ refusing special treatment for James’ posse, which Riley said was ok. How long does anyone think that Bosh and ESPECIALLY Wade are going to put up with that? Is that going to help Miami recruit other players? This whole thing just REEKS.
    Way to go, Bulls for saying no to James, and here’s hoping that that this whole thing, which was perfectly legal but STILL stinks, will eventually blow up in Miami’s face and they will be stuck with the consequences for years to come.

  4. Splicelite - Jul 11, 2010 at 7:04 PM

    I agree completely. If his teammates couldn’t pick it up when he slacked off then they had no right to complain. Maybe that team around him just wasn’t good enough to do it. Also, if you had a choice where you could live would it be Miami or Cleveland?

  5. Anonymous - Jul 11, 2010 at 7:06 PM

    YO DAVID ITS NOT THAT LEBRON LEFT THAT UPSET DAN GILBERT ITS THAT LEBRON LEFT WITHOUT A FAX E MAIL OR CALL TELLING HIM HE IS MOVING ON . ALL THE MONEY DAN SPENT WAS ON PLAYERS LEBRON WANTED ALSO CLE COULD HAVE SIGNED FREE AGENTS BUT LEBRON PUT ON THIS FARCE FULL KNOWING HES LEAVING .HE WAS HERE 7 YEARS AND A LOCAL KID THAT RARELY HAPPENS . THE ONLY LOCAL KID WE HAD WAS BERNIE KOSAR AND HE CRIED WHEN WAS TRADED TO DALLAS … I UNDERSTAND THAT THERE IS NO LOYALTY BUT WHEN LEBRON SAYS ON NATINOL MEDIA HE WANTS TO WIN A RING AND CANT WIN IT IN CLEVELAND EVEN THOUGH THEY HAD THE BEST RECORD IN THE NBA HOW WOULD YOU RESPOND???I DONT BLAME DAN FOR COMJNG OUT SWINGING!!!!!!!

  6. Russell - Jul 11, 2010 at 7:10 PM

    No, with your mother!

  7. Splicelite - Jul 11, 2010 at 7:18 PM

    Just so you know, Kosar lives in Miami.

  8. Anonymous - Jul 11, 2010 at 7:25 PM

    JUST SO YOU KNOW BERNIE OWNS A FOOTBALL TEAM IN CLEVELAND AND SPENDS MORE TIME HERE THAN IN MIAMI!! HE LOVES CLEVELAND NOT LIKE THAT PHONEY LEBRON !!!

  9. Nick - Jul 11, 2010 at 7:28 PM

    Nice job, jackhole.
    My mother is dead.
    Your mama killed her.
    Yo mama is now getting violated in jail
    But she always thinks of you

  10. OPT-OUT - Jul 11, 2010 at 7:31 PM

    Vinnie… I see you fail to understand what the phrase “Boss” means… So I will post it below… Gilbert was not Lebron’s Boss… LeBron James opted out of his contract, as permitted by the negotiated terms. While I reside in the Cleveland Area and do believe the show Lebron put on was unnecessary, I can only wish he accomplishes his every goal. This was not about money! It was about winning. Parents, especially in Cleveland, teach their children how to succeed in life i.e., PUT YOURSELF IN A POSITION TO WIN. But now they are teaching them to CRY when they don’t get what they want?
    Lebron is a smart person, he put himself in a position, contractually, to make the decision he made. I would tell my kids to map out a career path, and do what you can, short of hurting someone, to accomplish your goals. Lebron brought VALUE to the Cavs and the city for 7 years. He now chooses to think about his dream of being a champion. All this talk about him throwing the games is HOGWASH!!!
    Did all you forget that Boston started the Reg Season 23-5… and Cleveland 20-8… The same Boston team from the beginning is the one Cle faced in the Playoffs… No one through any games…
    Let this kid live out his dreams!!!
    “BOSS”–noun
    1.a person who employs or superintends workers; manager.
    2.a politician who controls the party organization, as in a particular district.
    3.a person who makes decisions, exercises authority, dominates, etc.: My grandfather was the boss in his family.

  11. Anonymous - Jul 11, 2010 at 7:36 PM

    Whaaaaa? Looooooser! Lol

  12. Willam Hansen - Jul 11, 2010 at 7:42 PM

    Good for James Cleveland has the worse owner in Basketball nobody wants to play in Cleveland, and the way the big mouth owner talked he should get out of basketball, he is a loser Cleveland will never go any where, their all cry babies, they wanted James to do it all for 7 years now they are crying because he did what was best for him self, Good luck to James and screw the owner of Cleveland.

  13. Anonymous - Jul 11, 2010 at 7:46 PM

    what drugs are you on ??? who do you think pays lebron the tooth fairy .. its dan gilbert that signs the check yes or no??? once again if lebron advanced in the playoffs and won a title it would have ruined his plan of going to miami how can he leave if he wins a title he duped cleveland and every one else … he is a piece of dirt

  14. hnirobert - Jul 11, 2010 at 7:50 PM

    Will tampering charges be brought up against NY for Amar’e’s comments towards Carmelo Anthony and Tony Parker?

  15. Nick - Jul 11, 2010 at 7:56 PM

    Nice clever response Anonymous.
    Did you reach seventh grade, or did sixth grade take the wind out of your sails?

  16. Bill-Sonora - Jul 11, 2010 at 8:02 PM

    Guys, I really think this is a big deal if what they are saying in the report is true. Its tampering according to the rules. Cant wait for tomorrow and what they will say on the talk radio about this.
    Reminds me so much of Tommy Gunn from Rocky 5.
    Watch it.
    THATS LEBRON IN THAT MOVIE JAJA.

  17. Bill-Sonora - Jul 11, 2010 at 8:09 PM

    There has to be an alternative to ESPNews. Hopefully Fox will come out with one.

  18. whocares - Jul 11, 2010 at 8:12 PM

    Let’s not forget that LeJackAss refused to shake hands with any of the Orlando Magic players after losing in the 2009 Eastern Conference Finals. He has proven over and over again that he has no class. He basically is a big spoiled brat that has a lot of basketball talent. We all complain about what he did to Cleveland but that should have been expected long ago. It is typical behavior for someone who has been spoiled endlessly by the adoring fans who really don’t care about his moral character but instead only about whether he can win basketball games or not. He did not go on to college. He never needed to mature. We really don’t care about the person so much as we care about their ability to win for us. Gilbert Arenas will return as will Tiger Woods. If there was no money to be made, the NBA does not exist. This is good business. Wake up and smell the roses…

  19. Nick - Jul 11, 2010 at 8:19 PM

    You actually finished sixth?!?
    Gee the Florida education system produces another masterpiece!

  20. cmonman - Jul 11, 2010 at 8:20 PM

    CLEVELAND GET OVER IT! Lebron is not the loser here. The city of Cleveland is cursed. If you thought that your house was haunted would you continue to live there. NO!!!!!!! You would move to a home that was safe and free of ghost. You cant blame Lebron for that. It was time to go. By the way, if Lebron sucks so much, and since he is quitter, why would all of you Cleveland fans want him back to play for the Cavaliers. The bottom line is that Lebron finally realize what history has been dictating for decades….Cleveland will never be a champion in any sport regardless of how much star power its professional sport teams have. Sorry Cleveland. Smart move Lebron. Im so glad that we will not have to mention your name in the same breath as Barkley, Malone, Stockton, Kidd, Wilkins, and Iverson.

  21. Mike - Jul 11, 2010 at 8:27 PM

    Great Post!!!…all you will hear in response is crickets…because they can’t argue with it!

  22. cmonman - Jul 11, 2010 at 8:30 PM

    why are you on here. Your comments about any of this is contradiction. Whocares?

  23. jorge - Jul 11, 2010 at 8:30 PM

    Given a choice to live between Cleveland and Miami, choose NY.
    Nice going LeBron, hope your posse gets really good jobs in that hell hole Miami.

  24. mike - Jul 11, 2010 at 8:31 PM

    David is Evil…

  25. whocares - Jul 11, 2010 at 8:41 PM

    I’m tired of the whining. LJ has no class and we really never demanded anything more from him. What gets me is we continue to regard him with shrinehood when he clearly doesn’t deserve it. Wade and Bosch are much more respectable. The good thing here is that James will no longer be the “man”.

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