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LeBron says he and Wade questioned their fit together during first season in Miami (VIDEO)

Feb 7, 2014, 9:31 AM EDT

With three straight trips to the Finals and a fourth potentially looming this season, it’s easy to say now that LeBron James joining Dwyane Wade and the Miami Heat in free agency was the right decision.

But it didn’t start out that way.

There was a real backlash against the Heat in that first season, and against James in particular for leaving Cleveland in the manner that he did in order to chase championships with two other All-Star talents. And at one point early in that first season, James says he and Wade questioned whether or not he had made the right choice.

Check out what LeBron has to say in the video clip above, which is an excerpt of a longer piece that will air Feb. 17 on NBA TV to cap off the league’s All-Star weekend coverage.

  1. bougin89 - Feb 7, 2014 at 9:51 AM

    I don’t think they realized the backlash from fans was going to be as big as it was. I can’t believe Lebron didn’t have somebody in his ear saying “the decision” was a bad way to announce he was leaving Cleveland.

    • fanofthegame79 - Feb 7, 2014 at 10:05 AM

      Hindsight is always 20/20. I think if anyone involved with ‘The Decision’ would have known the fallout, it wouldn’t have happened. But the logic was this: “we have the best player in the NBA as an unrestricted free agent, let’s put him on TV and have him make his free agency decision live. I mean, it works so well with high school players picking their respective colleges…OH! And let’s throw in a charity wrinkle and any money we raise can go the Boys and Girls Clubs of America!”

      It sounds good when you look at it like that….

      • bougin89 - Feb 7, 2014 at 11:50 AM

        I think the overall idea of making it about charity was a nice touch. But anyone would have known the Cavs fans would have felt completely burned by doing it pubicly like that.

      • fanofthegame79 - Feb 7, 2014 at 7:38 PM

        Unless he chose the Cavs. I bet they would have been all for it then. It’s human nature, so I’m not hating on Cleveland, but human nature has a touch of hypocrisy.

      • fanofthegame79 - Feb 7, 2014 at 7:39 PM

        And I agree completely about the charity part – it raised a ton of money ($2-3 million) for the Boys and Girls Clubs.

    • geefors - Feb 7, 2014 at 10:06 AM

      The Tv show was ESPN”s idea the decision was obviuosly the right one and the reaction was a total OVER reaction…. moved on

      • bougin89 - Feb 7, 2014 at 11:56 AM

        I never said it wasn’t the right decision. I was just commenting on the fan backlash because of this quote in the blog:

        “There was a real backlash against the Heat in that first season, and against James in particular for leaving Cleveland in the manner that he did in order to chase championships with two other All-Star talents.”

        I’m surprised none of Lebron’s “people” didn’t say something to the effect of “Maybe this will rub some of your most loyal fans the wrong way”.

        That is all.

      • bballhistorian - Feb 7, 2014 at 11:59 AM

        It was actually Maverick Carter (lebron’s Manger) idea ..and he pitched it to ESPN who saw ratings and agreed to it. Forbes online had the story behind it.

  2. jayzus - Feb 7, 2014 at 9:57 AM

    Wow Wade is unselfish, I guess it was the right decision.

  3. bballhistorian - Feb 7, 2014 at 11:53 AM

    Heres the question ive always asked:

    If LeBron didnt do a press conference and privately told cleveland management that he was going to Miami to join Wade and Bosh, would he still recieved the same hate?

    • bougin89 - Feb 7, 2014 at 11:58 AM

      Bingo.

      • bballhistorian - Feb 7, 2014 at 12:20 PM

        The way i’ve always viewed LeBron’s career in the eyes of the public…

        That most fans looked for him to fill the “Michael Jordan” void that he left the game. (NBA ratings fell dramatically after his ’98 ring). They thought it would be Kobe, and it was somewhat…but Kobe didnt have that charisma fans wanted that MJ had (not to talk about his rape charge in ’03 doing public damage also).

        So as soon as that happened, ESPN latched on like white-on-rice to LeBron James, and hyped him up as the next MJ all his career, since his HS Junior yr. In truth, ESPN used Bron for ratings-boost the same way NBC used Jordan in the 90s.

        So all you have seen from general fans have been LeBron filling that void…and did things like 1. complaining that he passed up last shots to find the “open man”, 2. didnt shoot in double-triple teams 3. Didnt do dunk contests (i’m still complaining about that one) 4. Not score 40, 50 pts….you know, still Jordan did.

        So when he did the “Most Un-Jordan thing” and left to join 2 other all-stars in order to chase a ring…that basically sealed his deal. And Fans were NOT HAPPY (obviously). I think at the end of his career, even if Bron wins 6 rings, Jordan worshipers will look at James 2010 free-agent decision and say “Well he will never be better than MJ cause MJ never left to join other stars”.

        I say to that…to each his/her own. Players need other all-stars on their team to compete (Magic CAME when Kareem was already on the team, Bird’s Celtics got 2 other players in free agency McHale Perish to compete, Jordan had Pippen’s game increase dramatically after the 1990 season…which in Phil Jackson’s words “was the #1 thing that put us over the top”). What was Cleveland management doing when LeBron was there?? And last i checked, Bron has gone to 3 straight finals since his “decision”, and is living well.

        So in all, he’s different than MJ. Hopefully the fans can accept that and move on…

  4. 1972wasalongtimeago - Feb 7, 2014 at 12:05 PM

    Id say LBJ’s performance that first season was incredible and highly underrated. They went to Game 6 of the finals with Nike Bibby & Joel Anthony in the starting lineup. Huge minutes from Magliorre, Dampier, Big Z, & Carlos Arroyo. Miller and UD were hurt all year. And they beat a still championship worthy Celtics team and the MVP led Bulls in the playoffs; all the while playing under the biggest spotlight and most criticism (apologies to this years Kentucky team of course) of any team in any sport.

    And let’s face it. It took a perfect storm for the Mavs to win that series.

    • patsfan92 - Feb 7, 2014 at 1:04 PM

      that 2011 team was so underrated. the only reason people dont creidt them is because they didnt win the chip. every one thought the bulls and the Meida darling at the time , derrick rose, would beat miami. they obliterated the bulls lol

    • dj3garrett - Feb 7, 2014 at 1:22 PM

      I have been saying that since the 2011 playoffs ended… I do not know how that Heat team even made it to the Finals… It was at he Big 3 surrounded by a D-League team… Mike Bibby couldn’t throw a beach ball in the ocean… Arroyo had to be the weakest PG in the league… Dampier, Magloire, and Big Z had to be the weakest combination of bigs ever… I don’t even rennet the other wing players that year other than the hurt Mike Miller… James Jones was there… I think Lebron james averaged about 47 mpg haha… That was the last time that Wade was flash very night… Bosh was Bosh… He showed up big when needed… That series against the Bulls that year Lebron and Wade were both batman…

  5. c2poke88 - Feb 7, 2014 at 1:55 PM

    Truth be told. Cleveland lost the best player in the world. They lost a guy who put them on the map globally. They lost a guy who was a job producer and a major revenue generator for the city of Cleveland, which was struggling mightily economically. When you consider those things, it’s obvious that the backlash from Cavs fans was going to be the same regardless of how Lebron announced his decision. If he had told Cavs mgmt first and tweeted his decision from the privacy of his home, Cavs fans would have still burned his jerseys and spewed the same amount of venom at him for leaving Cleveland. Lebron received more backlash for publicizing his FREE-AGENT decision than guys like Melo received for FORCING their way out of town while still under contract. So was it really about ‘The Decision’? No! The problem was simply that Cavs fans were extremely ticked by his FA decision, but that couldn’t justify their extreme reaction to Lebron’s FA decision.

    ESPN’s broadcast of ‘The Decision’ allowed Cavs fans to make the claim that it wasn’t that he left, but how he left. By making the “how” the issue, it legitimized their behavior toward Lebron in the eyes of the public and made Cavs fans look like sympathetic characters when they were really being hateful, vindictive, & completely irrational toward a guy who gave them 7 great years and decided he had to go elsewhere to improve his chances of becoming a champion while still in his prime.

  6. antistratfordian - Feb 7, 2014 at 2:48 PM

    No kidding. And it was still a problem in the 2011 Finals – Wade was trying to do too much and LeBron didn’t want to step on his toes. It was very wise / mature of Wade to finally go to LeBron in the offseason and say, “‘man, in order for us to be great, you have to be the guy. I’ll take a step back.’” The rest, as they say, is history.

  7. wiseliver - Feb 7, 2014 at 5:34 PM

    Being from the Cleveland area I wasn’t too happy with him leaving. I realize he was here for 7 years and had a right to leave and all that, I just thought he would stay until he got it right. But now that Mike Brown is back and coaching the Cavs, I can easily see why he left. LeBron is basketball smart and I am sure he sniffed out early on that Brown being the coach and telling him what to do could have be just as easily handled by a dog with a note in his mouth. Brown has no respect now, didn’t get any in LA, and I am sure he didn’t have any when LBJ was here before. As a young player he just went along with the status quo when all the time he had to know that Brown was a perfectly good waste of a pair of pants and a sport coat. So having Brown has been a learning experience, just not for the players, it’s the fans that are finally seeing the real problem.

  8. philtration - Feb 7, 2014 at 8:12 PM

    Then they bought a King Size bed and it all worked out.

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