LeBron James has done spectacular things both on and off the court during his NBA career. One glaring exception happened 10 years ago Wednesday. James was able to snag an entire hour of air time on ESPN to announce where he was going in free agency. At the time, James, the local hero, had led the Cleveland Cavaliers to one NBA Finals appearance in 2007, but had come up short each of the next three years. "The Decison" to leave Cleveland for Miami was going to be painful for Cleveland no matter what, but its execution, delivering the news on prime time national television, caused an uproar, not only in Northeast Ohio, but nationally. James went from being one of the NBA's most popular players to being its number one villain.
"I was 25 years old and I wanted to be liked by everybody," James said earlier this year. "That's why the emotions were there...From the time we landed in Miami (after The Decision) that first night we got there...I was like (expletive). What the hell just happened?"
James and members his management team, including Maverick Carter, Rich Paul and Randy Mims all expressed regret about how "The Decision" ultimately came off in a segment on "More Than An Athlete," a show they produced this past year for ESPN.
To mark the 10 year anniversary of the infamous program, ESPN recently produced "Backstory" looking back at how "The Decision" came to be and the fallout. Below you can see the "More Than An Athlete" segment and a couple pieces from "Backstory" as well. For most Cavs fans, all the ill will was erased when James returned to Cleveland in 2014 and then subsequently ended the city's 52 year championship drought by winning the 2016 NBA championship. Nonetheless, "The Decision" remains a night the city of Cleveland, Cavs owner Dan Gilbert and James himself, would much rather forget.