‘The Decision’ is widely considered one of the greatest mistakes of LeBron James’ illustrious NBA career. Watching “hometown hero” LeBron announce that he will be leaving the Cleveland Cavaliers for the Miami Heat in a 75-minute ESPN special in July 2010 enraged Cavs fans across Ohio. The broadcast is still despised by fans to this day, but ironically, it wasn’t even LBJ’s idea.
In late 2009, a Detroit Pistons fan named Drew Wagner wrote to then-ESPN writer Bill Simmons’ mailbox column. Wagner lived in Columbus, Ohio at the time, and suggested to Simmons and his readers that LeBron announce his next team on national television. Simmons loved the idea, and actually relayed to LeBron’s agents, who ran with it.
FILED TO ESPN: “Drew from Columbus, Ohio” is a 38-year-old Pistons fan who pitched the idea for “The Decision” in November 2009 in @BillSimmons’ mailbag: “I sent that email, it’s posted by Simmons and then 7 months later, it’s the biggest story in sports.” https://t.co/jtuV7M5XcH
— Don Van Natta Jr. (@DVNJr) June 28, 2020
It turns out that LeBron took a ton of flack for something that wasn’t even his idea. Fans were left with a bad taste in their mouth after the special, with many deeming the event narcissistic and a betrayal of Cleveland sports fans.
Fans took to the street with anger following LeBron’s televised announcement, burning his jersey, and hoping the worst for James’ time in Miami.
In the end, LeBron returned to Cleveland in 2014 after winning two titles in Miami. In 2016, LeBron powered the Cavs to an NBA championship over the Golden State Warriors, overcoming a 3-1 deficit in the process in his greatest career achievement to date. The title was the first in team history.
Even with his return mending many wounds, the impact of ‘The Decision’ has left a black mark on LeBron’s legacy. In shedding more light on the reasoning behind it, hopefully we James can fully move on.