Nick Saban Rips LeBron James' Decision: Defector Criticizes Defector

James BondmanCorrespondent IJuly 19, 2010

TUSCALOOSA, AL - APRIL 17: Coach Nick Saban of the Alabama Crimson Tide reacts during the Alabama spring game at Bryant Denny Stadium on April 17, 2010 in Tuscaloosa, Alabama. (Photo by Dave Martin/Getty Images)
Dave Martin/Getty Images

LeBron's "Decision" to leave Cleveland in the cold and bolt for the sunny climate and beaches of South Beach has drawn its share of critics—everyone from Dan Gilbert to Michael Jordan to now even Alabama Crimson Tide head football coach Nick Saban.

At a news conference at the Von Braun Center, Saban talked about many topics, including the upcoming season, but he did also discuss a share of off-field issues like leadership. Suddenly, the wave of LeBron talk hit Saban via a reporter who asked him about LeBron's decision to sign with the Miami Heat. 

"The way (James) managed what he did just speaks volumes about who he is and whether he is a team guy - not because he left Cleveland, but the way he did. That's not the kind of trust and respect you'd like to have in a team organization." 

This is coming from the same man who infamously left the Miami Dolphins back in 2006 after making countless public statements at press conferences saying he wasn't going to be the "Alabama coach."  Later he bolted for Alabama, lying to the Dolphins and upsetting then-majority owner Wayne Huizenga. 

Really Saban? You're going to criticize LeBron James, who did the exact same thing you did for very different reasons? Trust and respect are out of the question—Saban threw those into dumpster and pretty much said goodbye to a NFL coaching job anytime soon by doing what he did back then. But this? 

Saban left a job in the NFL that many in the college ranks would dream of having. He left Miami for a rebuilding job in Alabama and the chance to win BCS titles. James left Cleveland for less money and an opportunity to win an NBA title with many of his superstar friends; unlike with Saban, there was a great incentive to leave for better hope. 

Saban accomplished his goal in winning a BCS championship title game, and LeBron is similarly going for a dynasty with a great opportunity. It's beyond me that Saban would essentially be criticizing someone for doing the exact thing he did four years ago. 

All and all, what separates Saban from LeBron is that LeBron gave Cleveland chances to improve the team throughout his tenure and didn't publicly say he was going to leave. On the other hand, Saban took matters into his own hands and left a team scrambling for head coach after only two years and in the middle of a contract. Yes, the Cavs are searching for their next franchise player, but not as of now, since the draft has come and gone and the crème de la crème of free agency are gone. 

I agree that LeBron did cause a show and didn't tell his former team, Cleveland, prior to his decision, which caused an uproar by the owner Dan Gilbert. Gilbert was later fined by commissioner David Stern, who also said LeBron should have informed the Cavs of his decision. Yet Nick Saban did it the same way, minus the drama and media attention, only he lied, which is worst thing you can do. Who can you trust and respect in a team organization next time?