"The Decision:" I don't have a problem with what Lebron James did

07/10/2010 11:46 am
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I've read a ton of articles/comments regarding Lebron James' decision and they are almost universally declaring him to be the biggest jerk ever to put on a uniform, in any sport.

I really don't have a problem with what he did, and here's why.

It was unnecessarily cruel to Cleveland


Was it? Was there a way Lebron could have gone about leaving Cleveland that would have resulted in cheers and well wishes from Cavs fans? That seems unlikely. The reaction from Cavs fans was inevitable. As was the impression amongst many that he was abandoning them. Yes he "made them watch" while he talked about going to Miami, but I don't see how in any other circumstance that's not seen as an honorable approach. Should he have sent them a mass email? Tweeted it on his newly minted account? He knew he'd take heat (heh) for his decision, and still told them as "face to face" as possible by doing so on television.

Which brings us to...

It takes a special kind of Ego maniac to think you're so important you can turn it into a TV special



First off, as for the special itself. Every modern athlete has held press conferences, many times days in advance, to announce things ranging from their retirement to their unretirement. In essence all this was was a slightly drawn out press conference. Are people under the impression that if Lebron just set up a regular press conference for 9pm ET that Thursday that no one would have mentioned it, ESPN wouldn't have speculated wildly in the mean time, including massive coverage before and after, interviews with him, etc? Would fans of the involved teams have been in any less agony during that span? The only appreciable difference here is that it got a name, an official time slot on the TV guide, and some graphics, which was no doubt ESPN's doing. The other difference from the inevitable was Lebron and his people gave the channel most people would have been watching the press conference on anyway an exclusive in return for them giving the extra money they would have already made to charity.

Besides all that, isn't it sort of hard to play the "how dare they have the audacity to think that a huge percentage of America is interested" card when a huge percentage of Americans were interested? Seems sort of bizarre to rip on Lebron for being an Ego maniac for the assumption tons of people were going to be watching, when tons of people watched. More people, in fact, watched Lebron announce he's leaving Cleveland than watched his last game in a Cleveland uniform.

What ever happened to loyalty?



Ignoring the fact that this sentiment always strikes me as somewhat naive. Every team he goes to has fans. Do they not count? Those who claimed you first get to claim you always and forever? Lebron is probably more important to Cleveland than say Kobe is to LA, but even that is sort of a bizarre point to make. Lebron should stay in Cleveland because it's so shitty there that Lebron is all they have? Sign me up! Besides which, Lebron reportedly did all he could to get the super trio to Cleveland, but they didn't want to go there. Probably because it's so shitty. Cavs fans don't have to enjoy watching Lebron in another uniform, but taking his leaving like a personal insult is truly ego maniacal. Likewise giving no benefit of the doubt to, instantly hating, and burning the jersey, of a guy you practically worshiped for 7 years is a truer act of disloyalty. Lebron was a person to you, you're a collective idea to him. You "knew" him, he doesn't know you.

Other Thoughts



There's another aspect here that I think gets played up as a huge positive under almost any other circumstance. A group of players that could have locked up mega dollars, at a particularly good time in the NBA to lock up dollars, took less money, because they'd rather win games. Isn't that exactly what so many of these exact same sanctimonious talking heads have been saying they want for years? In the "I can't feed my family on $10+ million a year" NBA, in a "they get payed millions to play a kid's game" society, how is 3 guys in their prime taking less money because they want to win not one of the greatest stories of the last few years? (Not that they're exactly working for peanuts. Which, incidentally, is my favorite nut.)
2887.gifAlex - 3618 Posts
07/10/2010 @ 07:51:46 PM
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I didn't like the special. It was too much and it just felt wrong.

It was up to him to leave and I can't really blame him for it. But I found this statement disingenuous

Jim Gray, "Ever want to go through this again?"

James, "This is tough. This is very tough, because you feel like you've let a lot of people down. You've raised a lot of people's expectations also. But it was a tough decision, because I know how loyal I am. "

Apparently he knows that he's not loyal enough to stick with his franchise and home state? He followed that up with the "I have to make myself happy" part, which it's hard to argue with too much, but if he was really that loyal to his hometown area he would have stayed. There's little doubt that the Cleveland economy will lose some money now that he's gone (barring the unlikely scenario where the Cavs become super awesome). I think you can argue how much that should have played into his decision on a scale of 1-10 and make equally compelling arguments for both 1 and 10. But since he decided to go more towards the 1 end of the scale and bolt for Miami, he shouldn't have said anything closely resembling the word loyal at any point in the special.

Also now that the contracts are done, all 3 players got 6 years plus early termination options and will get $15 million less than the max over those 6 years. When you have a $110 million contract that last $15 million doesn't mean a whole lot when you factoring in that those guys all on the same team will probably more than make up for it in increased endorsements and such over what they would've got on their own. So in the end I'm not sure they really sacrificed much in terms of money. Basically Miami bent over backwards to accommodate their wishes.
http://sports.espn.go.com/nba/news/story?id=5368003

In conclusion, if this is the decision that he can live with then that's great, but I felt the way he did was distasteful. As far as from a basketball perspective, I think a lot of people wanted him to be the Jordan/Kobe, but clearly he's wired the same way (alpha dog, this is my team and we're winning or else). Which is neither good nor bad really, like you say, in different circumstances people would be applauding the willingness to team up and work towards a common goal as a team. It seems that in certain sports like, well maybe only basketball because it's the only team sport where one guy can have that much of an impact, that overbearing individual pride I guess is valued as equally as a total team player.

One more thing, the personal insult and burning jersey stuff seems to be an overreaction, but at the same time if it makes those people feel better, then they're just following the same path as James right?
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jeremy.jpgJeremy - I hate our freedoms
07/10/2010 @ 09:20:46 PM
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Well, my post was mainly along the regards of "given that his decision was to leave, I didn't have a big of a problem with how it went down in general." I should have added that, as well as the fact that I didn't watch the special in entirety, and for all I know he could have told Cleveland to go Ef themselves at the 45 minute mark.

I was just saying that people are making a big deal about how it was such a big deal, when in reality it really couldn't have played out much differently if it were a regular press conference. ESPN would have covered it the same. Everyone would have been on the same pins and needles. Cav fans would have still had their hearts ripped out. A lot of the talking is really the same type of thing with the "oh I'm so sick of Favre" every year when much of it is our doing, little of it is actually their doing, and half of the talk is talking about how they're sick of talking/hearing about it.

About the only thing that would have played out differently is we wouldn't have had the 3-4 "OMFG JUST ASK HIM THE QUESTION ALREADY!!!111!!" questions, like if he was a nail biter.
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reign_of_fire.jpgMicah - 584 Posts
07/10/2010 @ 10:18:39 PM
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I really didn't care one way or the other, but in regard to the unnecessarily cruel part, imagine if Mauer had not signed a deal in the offseason, waited until free agency, then was publicly offered $20 million more from the Twins, but still signed with the Yankees in a prime time TV special. I think Twins fans would feel a little extra special betrayal in that scenario versus just signing with another team.

Agreed on the Other Thoughts section. I've heard that he will lose an estimated $150 million in endorsements for signing with Miami over Chicago or NY. You certainly can't say he's in it for the money.
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jeremy.jpgJeremy - 8968 Posts
07/10/2010 @ 11:06:08 PM
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The special, or at least the fact the Mauer would be willing to turn it into a special, might make things worse. It would be a little salt in the wound, sure, but would rank low on the things to be upset about. The special shouldn't be the reason people are hurt, the other reasons you said are. Joe would still need to announce it. ESPN would still cover it. It was always going to suck.

I just feel like because the officialness of the pain came from the special, people are blaming it, when in reality it was just a not so different venue for the shitty news, which would have been shitty no matter how it happened. People are acting a little like Lebron revealed the news by tearing away his shirt to reveal a Heat jersey, then getting up and dancing with the Miami Heat cheerleaders he had flown in while "Going to Miami" by Will Smith played in the background. The coverage leading up to it, the coverage after it, everything would have been the same. Take Lebron off a stage, and put him in front of an NBA/Gatorade backdrop behind a table. That's really the difference, at it's core, and this way instead of ESPN making extra profits off of the same substance, a charity got some money.

Plus there's some different ways to look at the situation you describe. I'm not sure if I would be more upset if the Twins offered Joe more money and he went somewhere else, or if he went elsewhere for more money. If the Twins sucked, or he was from the area, or his best buddies were somewhere, etc, I think part of me would understand going to a another team. On the other hand it would up the "wow he really didn't want to be here" factor.

If he took more to go elsewhere you could always tell yourself "well, it is a business," but on the other hand there's the "what a greedy jerk" aspect.
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Jeremy perfected this 5 times, last at 07/10/2010 11:36:40 pm
fry6beeu9.jpgJeremy - Broadcast in stunning 1080i
07/11/2010 @ 12:05:04 AM
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Also, I meant to link to this somewhere
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matt.jpgMatt - 3369 Posts
07/11/2010 @ 05:38:35 AM
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Jeremy Wrote - Yesterday @ 11:06:08 PM
ESPN would still cover it. It was always going to suck.


Yeah, it was always going to suck so why make it worse than it needs to be for the fans? The normal way these things seem to unfold is that the news is leaked (possibly intentionally) and then reported, followed later by a confirmation by one of the parties. Then after everyone who cares about the news has already heard about it, they have a press conference with team officials in front of one of those backdrops with the team logo and sponsors on it.

The way LeBron did it guaranteed that almost every Cavs fan would be watching, hoping he would stay, and then would hear that he was leaving directly from his own mouth (and yeah, there are some things that are better done in person, so to speak, but I don't think this is one of them). Yeah, there were reports that he was going to Miami all day, but those were never confirmed reports, just "signs point to" stuff like that. Considering that many people thought the signs pointed to Wade going to Chicago up until he announced he was staying with Miami, I'm sure Cavs fans kept their hopes alive.

While it may not seem too much of a difference to you and me, to a Cavs fan I can see where it would be like tossing salt into a wound, and those are the people that LeBron is supposed to "care" about the most.
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scott.jpgScott - 6225 Posts
07/11/2010 @ 07:43:19 AM
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Has any other player in any other sport done anything close to this to announce the team he is signing with? No. Players have these kinds of TV events when they retire, not when they switch teams. It's no surprise that a basketball player was the one to do it, in a league where egos are the rule. So I would say it DOES take a special kind of ego to go about his signing the way he did it. I have less respect for the NBA now than I ever did, and I will forever now root against LeBron, not because he was disloyal to Cleveland, but because he now seems like giant douche.

And ESPN has sort of dropped on my respectability meter. I watched the special for no more than 2 minutes and even then I felt my soul trying to escape from my body.
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Scott edited this at 07/11/2010 7:45:17 am
scott.jpgScott - 6225 Posts
07/11/2010 @ 07:50:06 AM
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Matt Wrote - Today @ 06:38:35 AM

While it may not seem too much of a difference to you and me, to a Cavs fan I can see where it would be like tossing salt into a wound, and those are the people that LeBron is supposed to "care" about the most.


Lebron probably did more irreparable damage to his relationship to Cleveland than Brett Favre even came close to doing in Wisconsin.
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sarah.jpgSarah - So's your face
07/11/2010 @ 09:02:23 AM
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Scott Wrote - Today @ 07:50:06 AM
Matt Wrote - Today @ 05:38:35 AM

While it may not seem too much of a difference to you and me, to a Cavs fan I can see where it would be like tossing salt into a wound, and those are the people that LeBron is supposed to "care" about the most.


Lebron probably did more irreparable damage to his relationship to Cleveland than Brett Favre even came close to doing in Wisconsin.


It's kind of hard to decide who's the bigger jerk. Favre was with the Pack for 16 years and went through a lot during that time. He made WI football relevant again in the NFL (with the help of Reggie) and we stood by him as he lost playoff game after playoff game in ridiculous fashion. Then to retire, change his mind after the organization had had to move on and decide he wanted to play for their most hated rivals just to stick it to them, well that's cold.
LeBron was the hometown hero and may have been one of the few things keeping the economy going for OH. Their sports fans have been through a lot and to hold a conference on ESPN to say FU to those fans is quite the self-absorbed douchebaggery thing to do. To give up on a team and not try to bring them a championship shows he's not really all that great. (No matter how many times he talks in the 3rd person)

Let's just all agree that "The Decision" was possibly the worst thing ever to be aired on television and move on. Basketball is boring and egotistical and I hope the Heat never make it to the finals.
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jeremy.jpgJeremy - 8968 Posts
07/11/2010 @ 10:29:20 AM
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Matt Wrote - Today @ 05:38:35 AM
Jeremy Wrote - Yesterday @ 11:06:08 PM
ESPN would still cover it. It was always going to suck.


Yeah, it was always going to suck so why make it worse than it needs to be for the fans? The normal way these things seem to unfold is that the news is leaked (possibly intentionally) and then reported, followed later by a confirmation by one of the parties. Then after everyone who cares about the news has already heard about it, they have a press conference with team officials in front of one of those backdrops with the team logo and sponsors on it.

The way LeBron did it guaranteed that almost every Cavs fan would be watching, hoping he would stay, and then would hear that he was leaving directly from his own mouth (and yeah, there are some things that are better done in person, so to speak, but I don't think this is one of them). Yeah, there were reports that he was going to Miami all day, but those were never confirmed reports, just "signs point to" stuff like that. Considering that many people thought the signs pointed to Wade going to Chicago up until he announced he was staying with Miami, I'm sure Cavs fans kept their hopes alive.

While it may not seem too much of a difference to you and me, to a Cavs fan I can see where it would be like tossing salt into a wound, and those are the people that LeBron is supposed to "care" about the most.


So if it was a normal press conference, Cavs fans would have been totally disinterested?

This is obviously pure speculation on my part, but I'd be willing to be that had he forgone any sort of "hearing the word from the horses mouth" just as many people would be outraged that he "slinked away without a word" saying things like "Cavs fans deserved to hear the news from him, not the front page of ESPN.com"

It doesn't say much about sports or our society that people were so interested in this, no. But people were interested, so like I said, it's kind of hard to get indignant about Lebron/ESPN assuming millions of people cared enough to tune in, given that millions of people tuned in.
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newalex.jpgAlex - 3618 Posts
07/11/2010 @ 04:31:48 PM
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Random nba note, apparently Brian Butch is still around, but just blew out his knew

http://blogs.denverpost.com/nuggets/2010/07/10/brian-butch-injured-as-nuggets-cruise-to-summer-league-win-over-lakers/
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matt.jpgMatt - 3369 Posts
07/11/2010 @ 10:16:34 PM
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Jeremy Wrote - Today @ 10:29:20 AM
So if it was a normal press conference, Cavs fans would have been totally disinterested?


If it was a normal press conference, the news would have already broke, the fans would have had time to digest it and most likely many of them wouldn't have watched.

Jeremy Wrote - Today @ 10:29:20 AM
This is obviously pure speculation on my part, but I'd be willing to be that had he forgone any sort of "hearing the word from the horses mouth" just as many people would be outraged that he "slinked away without a word" saying things like "Cavs fans deserved to hear the news from him, not the front page of ESPN.com"


There may have been some that would say that, but I doubt it would be as much of an uproar than it is now.

The bottom line is he changed things up and made it a bigger show than it would have been. I don't think it's unreasonable to take that as an extra insult when you then get "dumped".
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fry6beeu9.jpgJeremy - 8968 Posts
07/12/2010 @ 03:32:15 PM
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Well, I think you're giving too little credit this time to the rumor aspect. It was pretty "well known" what the plans were, barring a last second change of heart. This same thing in press conference format wouldn't have changed much, except a charity would be $2.5 million poorer.

If the press conference was a more "normal" route, it might have had a bit more officialness to it, because word generally leaks in free agent situations that so-and-so has actually signed. Then again, the first glimpse of Lebron would have been in front of a Heat backdrop, grinning from ear to ear, holding a Heat jersey. However to pretend that it's unprecedented to have a press conference where the announcement is previously unknown, or no certainty/finality is added, isn't fair. Nor is it fair to pretend that this was all that terribly different, in that regard.

I'm sure there are some Packer fans out there that wish they had a few days of "from the horses mouth" confirmation that Farve was coming back, rather than there being about 2 hours between the "holy hell! this is happening?!" realization and Favre actually on the field in a Viking helmet.

(Although maybe Lebron and his people should have rounded Boys & Girls from all the areas in "contention", since the crowd's universal audible "we just got punched in the stomach" certainly didn't help his endeavor.)
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Jeremy screwed with this 4 times, last at 07/12/2010 4:06:55 pm
fry6beeu9.jpgJeremy - Super Chocolate Bear
07/12/2010 @ 03:53:33 PM
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Again, I'm not arguing Lebron is some great humanitarian, or even a nice guy, or that this was perfectly executed philanthropy. I don't give a crap about Lebron, and he seems like a fairly giant douche. I just think people are, in general, overlooking how much of the things they're criticizing Lebron for were inevitable, given his leaving, or always true, no matter how he went about leaving. And also that, like many things, people are trying to have it both ways. He's a jerk for announcing on TV, and he'd almost certainly be called a jerk for leaving without saying a word. If he took a while to decide he'd be accused of building up hope just to crush someone, if he decided right away he would be accused of rubbing salt in their wounds by how he "couldn't wait to leave."

I never meant to argue that the special wasn't a little extra kick in the junk, just that people are talking about the special like it's almost solely responsible, and like there was some way he could have done it where Cleveland would have thrown him a going away parade.

A little worse? Maybe. A lot worse? No, and a charity also made 2.5 million.
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Jeremy perfected this 6 times, last at 07/12/2010 4:16:21 pm
fry6beeu9.jpgJeremy - 8968 Posts
07/12/2010 @ 04:23:41 PM
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The other factor is how quickly things you like turn to things you hate (or vise versa.) the second a guy isn't on "your side" anymore.

Maybe Lebron came off as especially emotionless, egotisitcal, and douchy to Cavs fans during the special because up until that moment they interpreted those things as being cool under pressure and full of bravado. In reality it's the same person, but your interpretation changes, and in this case they're having sort of a post hoc ego propter hoc reaction to whatever caused that change.
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Jeremy edited this 2 times, last at 07/12/2010 4:25:43 pm
scott.jpgScott - On your mark...get set...Terrible!
07/12/2010 @ 05:25:31 PM
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To me, it's that this epitomizes the overwhelming culture of the NBA. Players, however good they might be, want to be considered by everyone around them to be bigger than the league. NBA is a star-driven league (unlike any of the other major sports), there is no doubt about it. Fans know it, the referees certainly know it, and the networks know it--and that in and of itself isn't necessarily a bad thing. (why, though, in the playoffs, did ESPN spend so much time talking about "next year" regarding Lebron when his team was still playing.) The good NBA players seem to be so caught up in where there are going to fit in history as "am I going to be the best" and "where will my legacy take me", and "what can I do to keep everyone's attention on me?".

I have no problem with Lebron going to a different team. That is the nature of sports and free agency. To get mad at him for leaving is denying business of the sport, because literally every team in every sport has had one of their greats leave at some point. It was the way he did it. The biggest reason I don't watch the NBA is because of the egos involved, not because I don't find basketball uninteresting. This was just another example, one of epic proportion, of why I cannot stand the culture of the NBA.


Some of the arguments Jeremy is making do make sense, and I would agree with them for the most part if it weren't for the people who don't have a vested interested in any of the parties involved that were turned off by it. Take for example me. I don't have any vested interested in Miami, New York, Chicago, Cleveland, or Lebron. I don't care about any of them whatsoever. But in my opinion, the manner in which it was handled lacked class, showed immaturity, deliberately added insult to a base that was indeed loyal over the years, and overall made a mockery of the whole free-agency situation. This isn't professional wrestling, after all. That is exactly what that special made it feel like.

While I think the Favre situation is/was a completely different situation altogether and hardly deserves to be mentioned in this thread (even though I'm the one that initially brought it up), I think the way he handled it was pretty much the right way to go about something that isn't going to be a popular situation. In some ways, it happened quietly with numerous news stories leaking rumors and eventually something coming through to confirm all of it. Lebron literally held his former team on edge, and then in one fell swoop, reached in and ripped out their hearts with his cold hand for all the nation to see; and it would be hard to disprove that this wasn't intentional from the beginning.
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Scott screwed with this at 07/12/2010 5:35:22 pm
newalex.jpgAlex - 3618 Posts
07/12/2010 @ 06:00:44 PM
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LeBron was a legitimate free agent. Favre weaseled his way over to Minnesota.

Jeremy Wrote - Today @ 04:23:41 PM
The other factor is how quickly things you like turn to things you hate (or vise versa.) the second a guy isn't on "your side" anymore.


A lot of Cavs fans didn't like LeBron because he was LeBron, they liked LeBron because he made the Cavs relevant and a gave them a chance to win a championship. They weren't cheering for LeBron every night, they were cheering for the Cavs. But he failed to bring a championship and is now jumping ship, so he's a failure and a traitor to those people.
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scott.jpgScott - 6225 Posts
07/12/2010 @ 06:02:12 PM
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Well, when Favre finally went to the Vikings, he was a legitimate free agent too.
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jon.jpgJon - infinity + 1 posts
07/13/2010 @ 04:53:05 AM
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Now seems like the time for me to post my latest half-written essay on loyalty in sports. But it's only half written, so that'd be ridiculous.

For the record though, in this situation, I'm more in the camp of this being no big deal than being a big deal. With the caveat that in every situation there could be much more than meets the eye of the general public, I don't think it was "disloyal" or "slimy" or anything for LeBron to actually choose another team over Cleveland. But I do agree that he shouldn't have done it the way he did, but I also agree that there wasn't a "good" way to do it. But probably a few theoretically "better" ways to do it.

Now just a few nitpicks:

Scott Wrote - 07/11/2010 @ 07:43:19 AM
Has any other player in any other sport done anything close to this to announce the team he is signing with? No.


You might be right, but has any other player had the opportunity? As big of a deal as free agents can be, LeBron's situation was much bigger, and much more interesting. Even if/when Pujols is a free agent, it won't be nearly this big of a story. And you could argue Pujols is actually better in his sport than LeBron is at his. The only situation that is recent enough and big enough for a network and audience to both be this interested is probably Favre's. And everyone involved in that whole thing made it just as unsightly as this was. So maybe LeBron made a bad choice, but it's not like it's a choice many, if any, have had to face before.

Jeremy Wrote - Yesterday @ 03:32:15 PM
Well, I think you're giving too little credit this time to the rumor aspect. It was pretty "well known" what the plans were, barring a last second change of heart.


I dunno, I'd say it was pretty far from a foregone conclusion he was going to Miami. The Heat were the frontrunners, but maybe only with a plurality, if that makes sense (more rectangular?). Actually, the fact that there was the primetime special at all made me think there was a decent chance that he'd stay. Just before the show aired, I might have handicapped it at 45% chance Miami, 35% Cleveland, 15% Chicago and 5% Other. And that might be too low of an "other."

Scott Wrote - 07/11/2010 @ 07:50:06 AM
Lebron probably did more irreparable damage to his relationship to Cleveland than Brett Favre even came close to doing in Wisconsin.


It's good to see we didn't let this thread go for too long without a Favre mention. It's amazing the Pudding Pop article has been up for so long without one. And no, it won't be funny when one of you goes and makes a Favre comment on that article, so save yourself the time.

Also, Scott, as your friend, I'm a bit concerned that you seem to watch so many tv shows based on things you hate. You are a moth drawn to the raging fire of FoxNews and the NBA.
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Jon screwed with this 2 times, last at 07/13/2010 4:55:15 am
IMG_3063[1].jpgjthompto - 209 Posts
07/13/2010 @ 07:25:13 AM
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I'm just exicited about the T-Wolves getting Micheal Beasely out of all of this! Go Wolves!

"The Decision" special was not the right move, but the way the Heat introduced thier new big three was almost worse. They were awful cocky and I don't think coming out of the east is going to be as easy as everyone thinks.
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scott.jpgScott - 6225 Posts
07/13/2010 @ 09:44:49 AM
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Jon Wrote - Today @ 04:53:05 AM
Also, Scott, as your friend, I'm a bit concerned that you seem to watch so many tv shows based on things you hate. You are a moth drawn to the raging fire of FoxNews and the NBA.


I know, I am a glutton for punishment, and I am indeed drawn to it for some reason. I really don't know why because it always just gets me worked up.
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