NBA Finals 2012: Why History Will View LeBron's 'Decision' as Stroke of Genius

Stephen BabbFeatured ColumnistJune 21, 2012

MIAMI, FL - JUNE 21:  LeBron James #6 of the Miami Heat takes the court during player introductions against the Oklahoma City Thunder in Game Five of the 2012 NBA Finals on June 21, 2012 at American Airlines Arena in Miami, Florida. NOTE TO USER: User expressly acknowledges and agrees that, by downloading and or using this photograph, User is consenting to the terms and conditions of the Getty Images License Agreement.  (Photo by Ronald Martinez/Getty Images)
Ronald Martinez/Getty Images

Whether you approve of LeBron James' choice to bolt his Cleveland Cavaliers for the brighter lights of South Beach and the Miami Heat, there's no question that the move was a mark of strategic brilliance.

History will render mixed opinions about the episode, to be sure, but it will have a hard time judging the move a miscalculation.

In Cleveland James was destined for disappointment. After seven seasons with the Cavaliers, he had an empty trip to the NBA Finals to show for it.

Cleveland remained competitive but consistently outmatched, twice coming up just short against the Boston Celtics and once losing to the Orlando Magic. 

Perhaps the organization could have improved its roster in time, but it certainly wasn't on pace to do so with short-sighted acquisitions like those of Shaquille O'Neal and Antawn Jamison.

Owner Dan Gilbert may have been committed to appeasing his superstar, but he simply didn't have the time or the forward-looking pedigree to get the job done.

Even if Cleveland had managed to win a title down the road, it wouldn't have drawn the fanfare that will come in Miami. The smaller market and superstar deficit would have put the Cavaliers on pace to be the next Detroit Pistons—not the next Los Angeles Lakers.

James wanted "showtime," and that's exactly what he got.

It will never be a popular decision, and it probably shouldn't be. It was a calculated decision, and a well-calculated one at that.

LeBron has gone from a household name to one that transcends celebrity as we know it. He is living proof that there's no such thing as bad publicity.

However history remembers him, it will most certainly remember him.

It could have remembered him as a member of the New York Knicks, Brooklyn Nets, Chicago Bulls or Los Angeles Clippers. It could have even remembered him as the forever-loyal son of Ohio.

But there was no better opportunity to be remembered as a winner than that provided by the Miami Heat.

And, if we've learned one thing from those high-school history textbooks, it's that the past is almost always written and re-written by the winners.

It may not have been the right decision, but it was the smart one.