The Decision: As the NBA season draws nearer, this Miami fan felt it was time for (yet another) look at the controversial “decision” which brought together the 2012 NBA Champion Miami Heat. Maybe you agree and most likely you do not, but please enjoy yet another look at one of the defining moments in NBA history.
In hindsight and over time The Decision will ultimately be viewed with more detached humor than it is now. A couple of things to get out of the way first off:
1) It was monumentally stupid to put the biggest free agency moment, well, ever on national television – Or was it? This may turn out to be one of those sneaky intelligent decisions that end up making putting a network farther ahead of their competition. ESPN took a calculated risk involving one of the most popular athletes of all time, most likely figuring there was no chance at all he was going anywhere but Cleveland. Who would possibly have the balls to go on television and destroy his hometown team? I believe ESPN had no idea what LeBron was going to do, and had they any inclination they would have hyped the show even more. Again the whole thing was a monumentally fucking stupid idea.
2) Not even charitable donations could save this thing – Whether or not you genuinely believe LeBron thought the charitable aspects of the show would save his legacy (he probably realized pretty quickly that they did not) the show was still a bad idea of ridiculous proportions.
Many people have speculated about the show, and LeBron’s honesty through the whole process. Whether or not Mavrick Carter talked LeBron into the whole thing is ultimately irrelevant. We have to deal with “The Decision” because it happened and in writing this book it is impossible to ignore the ramifications. This was one of the biggest and most significant moments in the history of the NBA and glossing over the ugliness is impossible.
Are the conspiracy theorists right? LeBron claims he woke up that very morning not entirely sure what he was going to do. Again, we can either view this as truth or as a fiction meant to protect and slightly repair his shattered image. The other opinion is much more devious and somewhat sinister: Dwyane Wade, James and Chris Bosh colluded during the 2008 Olympics in Beijing, deciding to team up in Miami in 2010.
To buy this theory you have to believe that all three players only signed three year deals intending to go to Miami upon their competition. Why you may ask, would they not simply go to Miami immediately? All three were under contract at the time. Of course this also requires the believer to imagine the absolute worst of Dwyane Wade. Is he the kind of guy who would go into Free Agent meetings with teams like Chicago, Cleveland and New York in order to get information for mastermind Pat Reilly to use in his meetings with LeBron and Bosh?
It is sort of hard to believe the three players would collude so blatantly unless you believe Wade to be a villain of the magnitude of Keyzer Soze. Then the three players had to stick to the plan and not change their mind due to sentimentality or a better offer elsewhere – because, remember they each could have made more money by going elsewhere, or staying where they were. Honestly, if you were told the only guy who would come away with a max contract in the Summer of 2010 would be Joe Johnson I am pretty sure you would laugh hysterically and struggle to stop for some time. This is exactly what happened and this alone raises additional suspicion.
LeBron’s mysterious performance against the Celtics in the 2010 Playoffs also bears further examination. The team was on their way to the Conference Finals when they suddenly fell apart spectacularly. One player who was truly awful? Delonte West: which of course led to the rumors (potentially started by Mavrick Carter on Wade’s orders???) he had slept with LeBron James mother, the entire team knew and LBJ found out during the series. Why this would come out at the most important part of the season is beyond me, but there you go. If it happens to be true though, holy shit – and for some reason it is borderline believable due to the fact that Delonte West is completely insane. How insane? He was arrested during this same season for having a guitar case full of handguns, a shotgun, a crossbow, and possibly three dead Thai hookers? (I made one of those things up…I think?)
So the chances LeBron, Bosh and Wade colluded to join a team together and managed to follow through on this aforementioned collusion seems very, very unlikely. NBA players struggle to hold themselves together day to day and are not well known for sticking with any kind of plan (ahem, Dwight Howard), can you possibly imagine them being able to plan for three years in advance?
Not a chance – none at all.
Thus, despite the sheer ridiculous delivery system of “The Decision” we cannot lose sight of the fact this was LeBron’s decision and he had the right to make it. The man was a free agent and, as such, had the right to any choice he so desired. Instead of sticking with the team that had him on the path to immortality, LeBron decided to try and genuinely build something with two friends of his…in Miami…
So there seems to be a possibility that Miami might be slightly better than Cleveland from what I understand. Is it possible that the best basketball player in the world simply wanted to go to a much better place to live? Keep in mind and do not lose sight of the fact he is not yet twenty-eight years old – no disrespect to the people or city of Cleveland, but where would you rather be if you had hundreds of millions of dollars? Does this not seem like a much more logical idea for why LeBron chose to go to Miami?
When the choice was made and he moved to Miami, LeBron was clear about one thing: he wanted to win. Everything was going to be about securing the ultimate prize. Suddenly it seemed as if everything had changed in the world of selfish NBA players and everyone wanted to join a “super team”. It became the thing to try and do for quite some time in NBA Superstar circles. After Amare Stoudemire signed with the Knicks, Carmelo instantly began discussing joining the Knicks with Chris Paul in order to create a Superteam of their own. Dwight Howard transformed himself from fun loving, Shaun Kemp-esque, lovable Shaq wannabe into the most despicable man in the NBA attempting to get from Orlando to Brooklyn or LA.
Yet at the end of the day it was all about winning, as if this current generation of players suddenly realized winning the title was more important that their individual stats or awards. There was a small gap of time where the hyper competitive generation (think Kobe, Garnett and Duncan) gave way to Generation Next (Bron, Wade, Melo, Paul) who suddenly seemed at risk of going titleless. For some reason, none of them (with the exception of Wade…and Darko) were able to break through and win the elusive ring. LeBron had a shot, Howard had a shot as well, but Chris Paul or Melo simply have not.
They had come up in a different NBA era, one where all the players were friends not enemies going all the way back to the AAU circuit. It was becoming a major new world and for the first time in a long time, the league took a genuine evolutionary step forward. Whether or not this is a good thing remains to be seen.
However you view the Decision it needs to be understood as a milestone moment that changed and shaped the NBA going forward. No one had a chance to win it seemed, without a cast of characters straight out of a made up video game lineup. Even Kobe has moved to creating a “Super Team” by first attempting to add Chris Paul and then successfully adding Dwight Howard to the Lakers. Then of course there is the earlier Big Three precedent set by the Celtics in their 2008 Title year, which seems to receive less and less attention as the hatred towards newer teams with superstars – Miami, LA – grows.
LeBron’s choice had a dramatic influence on the next generation (KD, Westbrook, Rose) for whom winning is seemingly everything and who found themselves on teams tailor made for contending. There is little question that OKC and Chicago will eventually get their chances at the title and may even win one or two. After all, it was inconceivable that LeBron or Bosh would ever go throughout their entire careers – playing together – without winning a Championship. It is just as inconceivable that players of Rose or Durant’s capabilities will go without a ring as well. Time will tell for them, but again, they found themselves on contenders built through the draft and smart acquisitions. LeBron never had that chance as he had to carry the load, again and again. Cleveland tried to put players around him, but perhaps he needed that change of scenary. Needed to play outside Ohio and experience the world in a fresh and exciting way.
The Decision changed the NBA and it radically changed LeBron’s life in many different ways. Going forward, his free agent move irreconcilably impacts the future of the league. In a sick, and possibly perverse way, we should celebrate what he has done while continuing to condemn the delivery system. If Kobe wins another ring, or Dwight Howard snags one or Melo manages to get over the hump they should all call LeBron and thank him for their ultimate title salvation.
Maybe one day the fans will thank him too, but maybe they will not.
After all, it was a really dumb idea to go on national television and kill basketball in Cleveland for the foreseeable future.