LeBron James’ “Decision”: Five Things You May Not Know About the Infamous ESPN Special

On July 8, 2010, LeBron James changed the NBA landscape for the next few years with a few simple words: “I want to bring my talent to South Beach.”

Of course, it took him a long time to actually say these words. Why be straightforward when you can delay things unnecessarily and anger the entire fan base?

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“Decision” is an unprecedented ESPN special program that ended one of the craziest free agency periods in sports history. It was immediately regarded as a complete public relations failure more than ten years ago. Fans and pundits have tore up James and ESPN because of the poor organization of James and ESPN’s programs, laying the foundation for LeBron and the Heat to play the league’s biggest villain for the season.

Despite its flaws, the “decision” did cause a major chain reaction, benefiting James’ NBA brothers. It opened the era of player empowerment, allowing superstars to take control of their careers. (Look at Kevin Durant and Kawhi Leonard.) This also marked a change in the basketball world’s view of free agency and started a rumor factory throughout the year.

For James himself, leaving the Cavaliers to join the Heat proved to be a wise choice. Before returning to Cleveland in 2014, he reached four finals in Miami, won two championships and two MVP trophies. Sports Illustrated Announce his decision.

You may remember the overall talking points that were finalized at the time and the strong opposition that James, Dwyane Wade and Chris Bosh faced at the time. But some details about the “decision” were overlooked.

1. The original idea of ​​”decision” did not come from James, A member of his inner circle or TV producer.Turned out to be Fan suggestions from Bill Simmons Pouch.

An email from Drew from Columbus, Ohio landed on November 2009 Mailbag And asked, “What if LeBron announces that he will choose his 2010-11 team on ABC on a certain date to participate in a show called’LeBron’s Choice’?” Simmons agreed that the event should be carried out. TV broadcast, and propose a pay-per-view option.

“I’m pretty sure they will pay $44.99 for the ‘2010 Decision: LeBron’s Judgment’,” Simmons wrote.

According to reports, Simmons later introduced a special program to James’ business partner Carter at the 2010 All-Star Game. Don Van Natta Jr. of ESPN., Who recorded the origin of the “decision” as part of the online “backstory” documentary series. ESPN did not immediately approve the idea, but eventually reached an agreement with James.

Thanks, Drew!

2. Former NBA commissioner David Stern really, really doesn’t want “decisions” to happen. He urged ESPN to cancel it.

“I think [he didn’t like it] It may be because the players are in charge here,” former ESPN executive John Skiper told Van Nata.

Adam Silver took over as commissioner after Stern retired in 2014, According to reports, different feelings for special, Noticed that ESPN’s ratings are ridiculously high (an average of nearly 10 million viewers).it is also Raised more than $2 million For the American Boys and Girls Club.

Nevertheless, Stern will not change his position after calling the whole thing “Improper conception, poor production and poor execution.”

3. Jim Gray is not the first choice for ESPN to host “The Decision”“–He didn’t even work for ESPN at the time–but there was no room for negotiation.

According to Van Nata, Internet executives want people like Bob Lay or Stewart Scott to sit across from James at the Boys and Girls Club in Greenwich, Connecticut. James’ team insists on Gray. He interviewed James in high school, and talked with Carter and his agent Ali Emanuel about doing TV specials and participating in radio.

Gray didn’t understand a lot of criticism at first, and he still couldn’t understand it many years later.

“We made a TV show-a TV show!” Gray told Brian Curtis of The Ringer In 2016.

One of his regrets? He didn’t ask for money because he knew that all the proceeds would go to charity.

“They should pay me,” Gray said of ESPN. “They should pay me a lot of money.”


4. Kanye West attended “The Decision” He fell asleep during the show. seriously.

Courtney Cox is a former ESPN studio stage manager who was involved in the production of “The Decision”. She could not pinpoint exactly why the rapper went to Greenwich, but she claimed that West missed the most important part of the night.

Reflections from Cox in 2013 Regarding the “decision”:

I spent the first 15 minutes or so to hone the “every move of Ye”. He looks cold, he wears glasses indoors, without making any sudden movements. I forgot that he was there until one of the camera operators said, “I think Kanye West is asleep.”

In the biggest non-sporting event in a while, Kanye West fell asleep before anyone announced any news. He is doing things like the church/school principal nodding his head. Wake up, Mr. West.

He will eventually wake up and leave before the “decision” is over.

Standing outside the Boys and Girls Club was a 13-year-old Donovan Mitchell. Yes, that was All-Star guard Donovan Mitchell.

“I’m outside, so it’s cool to be there. I wanted him to go to Miami at that time, and I wanted him to get a ring,” Mitchell said in 2018 (Via Salt Lake Tribune). “I remember there were a lot of upset people there. There were a lot of Knicks fans, and Greenwich was very close to New York. But it was absolutely cool.”

Sorry again, Knicks fans.

5. Cavaliers boss Dan Gilbert did not stop talking after sending out That crazy letter ——You know, the one in Comic Sans accused James of “cowardly betrayal” and “shocking infidelity” because he chose not to re-sign with Cleveland. Super cool.

Well, Gilbert moved on and actually became even more angry.In a telephone interview Associated PressGilbert said that James received a “free pass” and it is now “accountability time.”

“People have covered up [James] It’s been too long,” Gilbert said. “We saw him in his true colors tonight.

Gilbert added that James “withdrew” from the Cavaliers in the second round of the 2010 series against the Celtics, which ended James’ initial performance in Cleveland.

“Watch the video,” Gilbert said. “For superstars, the Boston Series is different from anything in sports history… It’s not about his departure. It’s disrespect. Now is the time for people to hold these athletes accountable for their actions. Now. Is this how you raise your children? I’ve been holding back all this for a long time.”

This letter and those comments created a huge rift between Gilbert and James, but they were able to reconcile years later and maintained at least a certain degree of professional relationship during James’ second job with the Cavaliers. Gilbert lavishly maintained his trade in lineup upgrades, and James fulfilled his promise to bring a championship to Cleveland.

Oh, that letter no longer appears on the team website. Very good, Dan.

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