LeBron James Says 'The Decision' Was Actually Best Thing to Ever Happen to Him

Grant HughesNational NBA Featured ColumnistFebruary 18, 2014

GREENWICH, CT - JULY 08:  (EXCLUSIVE COVERAGE) LeBron James attends the LeBron James Pre Decision Meet and Greet on July 8, 2010 in Greenwich, Connecticut. Proceeds from tonight's 2.5 million dollar event will be donated to the Boys & Girls Clubs of America.  (Photo by Larry Busacca/Getty Images for Estabrook Group)
Larry Busacca/Getty Images

You never would have guessed it at the time, but LeBron James now believes his ill-conceived and very public escape from the Cleveland Cavaliers in 2010 was actually a good thing.

Considering the mountain of negative publicity that followed the infamous "Decision," it's remarkable James can look back on the turning point in his career as anything but a negative experience. Yet, in an interview with GQ's Jeanne Marie Laskas, James said:

The best thing that ever happened to me. I needed it. It helped me grow as a man. As a professional, as a father. At the time, as a boyfriend. It helped me grow. Being confined, I spent my whole life in Akron, Ohio. For twenty-five years. Even though I played professionally in Cleveland, I still lived in Akron. Everything was comfortable. I knew everything, everybody knew me—everything was comfortable. I needed to become uncomfortable.

Practically speaking, it's true James' life improved after joining the Miami Heat. He's won a pair of championship trophies and a couple of MVPs and is now among the most beloved and marketable professional athletes on Earth.

Plus he spends his winters in Miami these days. That's not a bad thing.

But he could have reached this same enviable point without the televised spectacle "The Decision" created.

Fans in Cleveland would probably still hate him, but most people unaffiliated with the Rust Belt don't really care that he left his first NBA team; it was the way he left that irritated the masses.

And it's definitely true that leaving a comfort zone can be a good thing in life, which is why we should partly believe James when he talks about the positives of getting out of his Akron bubble.

But let's not kid ourselves: If he had it to do over again, James would take his talents to South Beach without Jim Gray and a half-hour special.