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One year ago today, LeBron made “The Decision”

Jul 8, 2011, 8:05 AM EDT

Image (1) lebron_decision-thumb-250x191-15508.jpg for post 6206

It someday may go down with the most legendary player moves in NBA history — Kareem Abdul-Jabbar to the Lakers, Dirk Nowitzki to the Mavs (on draft night for Tractor Traylor), and the Celtics turning Joe Barry Carroll into Kevin McHale and Robert Parrish.

One year ago today, LeBron James told Jim Gray and the world he was taking his talents to South Beach.

No doubt, it created a backlash. But the energy it created helped propel the league to television ratings and popularity levels the NBA had not seen in a decade.

It changed the landscape of the NBA. It changed the popularity of the NBA. It changed the “We are all Witnesses” billboard in Cleveland. It changed the way we all think about Comic Sans font.

It will someday be looked back on as a move that made or broke LeBron James’ career.

It was a decision that some said on a basketball level was LeBron trying to take the easy way out. As if Bill Russell, Jerry West, Magic Johnson, Larry Bird and Michael Jordan were not been surrounded by great talent. The difference was LeBron decided to move to the talent – rather than having things built around him — and that changed the equation. Rather than be the “alpha male” LeBron, Dwyane Wade and Chris Bosh decided to team up. Some saw that as a sign of weakness, some saw that as smart.

The fear that choice struck in the hearts of small-market owners is part of the reason we have a lockout today. The fall that the Cavaliers took — both on the court and in the overall value of the franchise — made some smaller market owners dig in their heels for this lockout, demanding a system where they could compete and had a better chance to keep their stars.

It was a decision that was widely slammed for how it was handled. LeBron’s people thought they were improving his brand — based on television ratings you could argue they were right — but it left him as one of the most polarizing figures in all of sport. It was a decision that — along with the pep rally in Miami — became a public relations nightmare. The Heat are hated or loved.

What we will think of “The Decision” in a decade is impossible to say. Some will always say it was a decision of ego and an easy way to a title. But winning can change the story’s ending. And we don’t know how it ends.

But one year ago today, everything changed.

  1. ac0117 - Jul 8, 2011 at 9:18 AM

    I will probably remember the decision in the context of the NBA and in larger pop culture for a long time. Everyone I knew, even those with only the remotest interest in the NBA, watched it. Everyone talked about it (and then Dan Gilberts’ letter) for the following 2 weeks at work, non-stop. It was wild

  2. savvybynature - Jul 8, 2011 at 9:41 AM

    NBA ratings have been climbing for a few seasons now. I don’t know that you can assume that LBJ is the reason for them rising again last year. It very well could have been a continuation of the same trend we have seen for a few years now.

  3. captainwisdom8888 - Jul 8, 2011 at 10:59 AM

    Call me crazy, but I respect Lebron for doing exactly what he wanted with “The Decision.” Lebron is not driven by the ideals of others…and I find that commendable. I believe that while you may not agree with the decision he made, you might as well respect it…because he’s a grown man and that is what he saw fit. Simple, isn’t it?

    • sguy2130 - Jul 8, 2011 at 11:52 AM

      Most don’t fault him for making a decision…..they fault him for being an arrogant hypotcritical diva who thinks he’s better than everyone else and is foolish enough to think people will buy that it was for charity.

      Simple, isn’t it?

  4. captainwisdom8888 - Jul 8, 2011 at 12:06 PM

    You don’t know who Lebron is on a personal level, nor what he thinks…all anyone knows is how the media chooses to portray him. I understand the affinity people have for “going with the flow” of popular opinion because it’s EASY…but just try and think for yourself…

    • theghostofwillisreed - Jul 8, 2011 at 12:36 PM

      or we could look at the facts…

      he announces his decision to go to the heat on espn. there’s no logical need for it. it was a publicity stunt and an ego boost. at the end of the day, it was a transaction that could have been done with a simple press conference. lebron buys into his hype and will do what he needs to perpetuate it.

      so it’s okay when the media is used to be a tool for self-aggrandizement but it’s not okay when they run stories saying it was a poor decision? can’t have it both ways.

  5. dysraw1 - Jul 8, 2011 at 12:33 PM

    for me its not so much the decision. its about loyalty to the cavs,they had a right to what he was gonna do. thats is what was wrong about it.if you work for company for several years then decide to move on to 1 of their biggest competitors then that makes you a disloyal snake especially considering the way the cavs treated him

    • urodaddy07 - Jul 8, 2011 at 10:33 PM

      The question of loyalty, to me, is irrelevant. This is a business. He was a free agent and had the right ot make whatever move he chose to. The manner in which he chose to do it showed poor judgement, a unbelievable level of self-absorption and complete lack of respect to his team mates and the entire Vavaliers organization, whom he never bothered to inform prior to the “Decision”. I don’t know the man on a personal level and can only judge him on what I have seen and that episode left a bad taste in my mouth, an I was and still am a Lebron fan. I think other fans of his need to be honest and say the truth about the “Decision”. Lebron made a mistake, a big one. Can I say that it demonstrated some flaw in his character? I think it might. Should I stop liking thevway he plays ball. No. Having said that I cant wholeheartedly cheer for him the way I used to. That’s just being honest.

  6. delius1967 - Jul 8, 2011 at 12:50 PM

    I have no issue with LeBron (or any player for that matter) making move that they think will improve their chances for winning. That’s what the game is all about. If these guys weren’t hyper-competitive, they wouldn’t be playing in the NBA in the first place.

    The only thing that ticked me off is how LeBron put himself above the game. “I’m taking my talents to South Beach” instead of “We’re going to work hard to bring teamwork and discipline — and hopefully a championship — to Miami.” Would the latter have sounded stupid? Of course. Empty phrases, to be sure. But even the appearance of humility is important.

    Oh, and of course, he could have said it all in a written release, or through his agent, or at most a press conference. But primetime television? Fail.

    • theghostofwillisreed - Jul 8, 2011 at 3:11 PM

      sadly, the joke’s on us.

      why? we watched it. some of us (knick fans) may have still have had our fingers crossed even after the report from newsday’s alan hahn’s report that he was already signed,sealed and delivered to miami. we bitched about it. we watched broken-hearted clevelanders feel rejected. we watched games with renewed interest when our teams played the heat and no one benefitted more than the mavs who had millions of fans for ten days outside of the miami-dade area and they handed the heat a reality check.

      and we’re still talking about it now…

      is it too soon to ask who will win a ring first? the “king” or “the natural” bryce harper?

    • denverdude7 - Jul 8, 2011 at 8:54 PM

      I disagree on your hyper-competitive statement.

      If James was hyper-competitive, he would want to beat the best not join them. Why would someone with so much talent be satisfied with a secondary role? In other words, a voluntary Scottie Pippen.

  7. blueintown - Jul 8, 2011 at 1:32 PM

    After an entire year of huffing and puffing about this, can’t we finally just chalk the television special decision up to a catastrophic miscalculation? That night was not the genesis of the “where is Lebron going” hysteria, it was merely the culmination of at least two years of hype driven by the ESPN booyah’s.

  8. dirtybird2020 - Jul 8, 2011 at 5:19 PM

    A decade wont cjange nothing! He is a bust who blames others! I wont remember the decision ill remember a coward who is way overrated taking his talents to wade! He can have 5 rings and hes still that guy to me and everyone i know that took the easy route! Simple isnt it! Idiots that worshiped this bum say i respect him, im happy he was the reason the heat lost in the finals! Lbj hater for life, when lebron was asked about choking in the press confrence he looked to wade to answer the question thats lebron at his best! Bum, hope this guy gets his kneecap shotout by a cleveland fan, so we can put this bum to rest! lbj hater for life!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!

  9. dirtybird2020 - Jul 8, 2011 at 5:25 PM

    Hows that for thinking for myself, i dont need to think when all the facts are her! He checked out yet once again haha bum

  10. denverdude7 - Jul 8, 2011 at 8:46 PM

    Here’s to hoping the owners keep the players locked out for at least 5 years.
    I need a Bron-Bron break desperately.
    Maybe they will all go play in Europe.

  11. diablito0402 - Jul 9, 2011 at 12:46 AM

    Two segments decribe lebricks legacy so far in his career#1( the decision). #2. ( he checked out,,,,again).

  12. jollyjoker2 - Jul 9, 2011 at 12:50 PM

    Lebron is free to do what he wants but he did it all wrong. The problem with his action is that if a small market team gets a star, they will be wary this person will leave and half kill a franchise. Now, the next agreement will likely make guys like him a franchise player. The players will either go with that concept or their won’t be basketball for a long time.

  13. bobthis - Jul 10, 2011 at 10:25 AM

    How can anyone believe that Labron’s decision “Changed The NBA”? It didn’t even change the Miami Heat! He can do everything but win. James will never win a ring. Also please stop saying that he’s disliked because he’s a “successful young African American”. Stop playing the cry baby race card. Jerks come in all colors.

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