The Final Decision on The Decision is a necessary thing to tackle for any newborn Miami Heat fan. There was a strong reaction to the show at the time of its release, but it requires further analysis with some hindsight. Yes – I am aware of how much I am jumping onto an already crowded bandwagon, however, give me a small break: I had gone through nearly a decade, teamless and without hope. My hometown franchise and the closest team in the next city were gone.
The Decision changed everything. One moment completely transformed my basketball life for the forseeable future. Even hardcore Miami fans will face up to it, the one totally ugly part about the team’s tranformation from borderline playoff contender to Title Quest Diary neccessity was The Decision. I feel the decision is more complex than it first appeared. There was a lot of anger towards Lebron at first, as could be expected when one of the most iconic players in the NBA (who has been known worldwide since he was on a Sports Illustrated cover proclaiming him “The Chosen One”…at age 16) decided to…well…here it is:
It will certainly go down as one of the most uncomfortable moments in pop culture history and it can and will be endlessly ridiculed but…you watched it, didn’t you? It was one of the highest rated moments of the summer television slate drawing somewhere in the neighborhood of 10 million viewers (not counting the thousands holding their collective breath in the bars in Ohio). Had we been so bombarded with the media blitz that accompanied the “Summer of Lebron” that we simply had to know what was going to happen? So much so we were more than willing to sit through a horrific, self-agrandizing hour of television devoted to Lebron?
The simple answer: Yes, secretly we loved it.
It was one of the biggest moments in sports history. I know where I was when I watched it and I will probably remember the moment even a decade from now regardless of how many titles Miami Thrice bring home. Surely other people feel the same. At times it was painful and Lebron looked incredibly akward and uncomfortable in actually making his choice…yet he stuck it out even though it was not easy. Yes, he wanted to date a younger, sexier woman with more lifetime potential, but his highschool sweetheart had to be dumped…and it was brutal.
The angst is palpable, the frustration nearly paralyzing. Lebron knew what he was doing to an already tormented fan base that had annointed him their savior. His stats certainly helped the savior perception but his game may be more suited to the role of a playmaker (29ppg, 7.3rpg, 8.6 apg) than dominating scorer. Hell, if he can average a near triple double passing to Delonte West what is he going to do with Dwayne Wade and Chris Bosh?
It is also possible his decision was a last second thing. Reading the September GQ article about Lebron it appears his own people may not have been in on the final choice. The reporter covering the “Summer of Lebron” got any number of different possibilities when it came to his ultimate final destination…the interesting thing: not once was Cleveland the outright choice. If Lebron knew all summer he was not going to return to Cleveland, all he was waiting for was delievering the inevitable twist ending. He gave us one of the highest rated television shows of the summer and as much as we can bash him for it, he delievered. Did anyone actually believe he would have an hour long television special and choose not to return to the team in his home state?
What followed was one of those moments that shades the entire process before that point in a whole new light. Immediately the conspiracy theorists came out following leads to prove that this collusion had been in the works since before the Olympics in 2008. You can believe what you like but the fact remains: Lebron provided us with a better twist than Inception. This was his Keyzer Soze moment and we reveled in it.
Beyond the instant villian turn lies a half truth that his decision was motivated by a desire to win championships and playing in Miami or “South Beach” gives him an excellant shot to do that. Maybe something happened on the Cavaliers that damaged his relationship with his teammates beyond repair (If so, the fans of Cleveland can thank Delonte West the next time he comes to town). More than that, however, being in Miami has refreshed Lebron, invigorated Wade and made Bosh relevant for the first time in his NBA career. These guys were willing to sacrifice stats, money and singular glory in order to win and that, if nothing else is incredibly commendable.
I believe in what the Heat are doing and when Lebron James made his decision and gave the NBA a renewed outlook it desperately needs on the edge of an impending labor strike, it changed everything for me. I had a team to believe in again, a team to root for when so many others are lining up to root against them. This was, after all, the NBA equivelant of Carrie Underwood singing – completely unexpectedly – of taking a 2×4 to her cheating boyfriend’s truck. The Decision made me love the NBA more than ever and it gave me a team that I could cheer for no matter what. Everyone whether they will admit it or not is excited to see the new-look Miami Heat because these guys have the potential to turn any game into a rendition of NBA JAM (“He’s on FIRE”). I may not have become a Miami Heat fan for life, instead, merely I am signing on for the same length as Lebron (6 years, though for a lot less compensation so I feel like one of them) . When the run ends I may find a new team (OKC!) or I may stick around if the superteam does.
So, as a dutiful Canadian, Miami Heat fan I will be writing a Miami Thrice Title Quest Diary this year because I believe in the super team, and I believe in loving one team again…at least for the next six years. Enjoy your new city Lebron, but given that you comitted a serious crime against Clevelanders I would watch out for this guy: