LeBron James and the Aftermath of 'The Decision'
July 8th, 2010. It was a day in sports history that changed not only the immediate future of the NBA, but it also impacted the way that athletes will conduct themselves off the court in the future.
With the announcement from LeBron James saying he will be taking his talents to South Beach, LeBron ignited a fire. A fire that not only was burning inside the hearts of Cleveland Cavaliers fans like bad indigestion, but a fire that also burned through the NBA and caused a rampant wildfire throughout the NBA - but for the better.
While nearly every sports fan holds their own reserved opinion on what they thought of LeBron's infamous "Decision", one thing remains clear: "The Decision" was one of the best things to ever happen to the NBA.
While in no way am I condoning the actions of LeBron James or the way he left Cleveland, I will acknowledge the fact that "The Decision" sparked the average sports fans interest level in the NBA significantly.
While it is not debatable that LeBron (and Chris Bosh too) joining Dwyane Wade and the Miami Heat created a new, original and special type of "buzz" around the NBA, there are a few things that we can learn from LeBron's highly criticized "Decision".
Lesson #1: If You're Gonna Ditch, Do It with Respect
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Look, Cleveland Cavaliers fans were more than livid last summer following "The Decision", that's obvious.
However, Cavaliers fans weren't necessarily furious over the fact that LeBron James left, rather it was the way he left that sparked the hatred towards LeBron and the Miami Heat.
If you don't believe that and you think Cavaliers fans still would have been that furious no matter how he left - you're clueless.
Had LeBron James simply not had a nationally televised special where he jokes around and then ultimately embarrasses the city of Cleveland, things would have been much different.
If LeBron James decided to not have "The Decision", and simply said...
"Hey, look guys. It's been a great seven years in Cleveland. The past seven years of love, appreciation and loyalty that the city of Cleveland has given me has been more than I ever could have imagined coming out of high school. While I appreciate everything the city of Cleveland has done for me, I just feel like it's time for me to start a new chapter in my career."
...things would have been MUCH, MUCH different.
Sure, there would still be a portion of fans that call him a sellout and criticize him for "taking a shortcut" to a championship ring. But I can promise you that the backlash towards LeBron would have been less severe and full of less anger and hatred than it was last summer. Promise.
Lesson #2: If You're Gonna Talk a Big Game, You Better Back It Up. Immediately.
Look, I have no problem with anyone talking a big game, whether it be a professional athlete or the new guy at work who talks about how many beers he can slug before he starts to get buzzed. Absolutely no problem with people who talk a big game.
What I do have a problem with is people who talk a big game and then don't back it up.
When the Big Three held their welcoming party in Miami, they didn't talk about doing everything they could to win. They didn't talk about working their hardest to bring a championship. Instead, they basically guaranteed championships. Not just one, or two, or three, or four, or five, or six, or seven.
And then what did the Heat do in their first full season together? Ultimately, nothing. Sure, they were the second seed in the Eastern Conference Playoffs and were even the Eastern Conference Champions, but did they win an NBA title? No. So it all amounts to nothing in the end, because as the Heat said, they would win multiple championships. Instead, they couldn't even win one in their first season.
I understand that expecting the Heat to win a title in their first full season may have been asking a little much, but if the Big Three are going to talk about numerous championships, you better put your money where your mouth is.
Lesson #3: Be Thankful for What You Have/Had
Cleveland fans gave LeBron the keys to their beloved city, and ended up heartbroken and disappointed in the end
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This sort of relates to the first slide, but not completely.
I think Cavaliers fans were ticked most at the fact that during "The Decision," LeBron never thanked Cleveland for what the city had done for him. If you're one of those people who think that Cleveland didn't do much for LeBron and it was instead the other way around, again—you're an idiot.
For seven years, the city of Cleveland gave LeBron he ever could have asked. They worshiped him, treasured him, put him on a pedestal and fed into his ego which seems to make him think he's a "king."
Here's a funny story. Seeing as I go to college in Cleveland, I know some people who know some people.
Apparently, a friend of mine had a friend whose dad owns a nice restaurant in downtown Cleveland. One time, LeBron stopped in to the restaurant with some friends and at the end of the night, the tab for LeBron's table was over $6,000. The waiter for the table was excited not only because he was waiting a table that LeBron James was sitting at, but he also knew he was going to get a big, big tip seeing as the tab was that large.
Or so he thought.
LeBron, who paid for the entire tab (what a nice guy, right?), ended up leaving a tip of around $20 for the waiter (maybe he's not such a nice guy). $20? For a $6,000 tab? Come on now, LeBron. I understand that you're not going to tip the waiter 20 percent of the tab (which would be a $1,200 tip), but don't completely short change the waiter either.
My point is LeBron never seemed thankful for all that Cleveland did for him. He seemed to take it all for granted. And when you start taking things in life for granted, you usually end up looking unappreciative and egotistical.
Lesson #4: Stay True to Your Word
Fast forward five years later from that quote and look where LeBron is now.
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Few NBA fans probably realize this, but back in 2006 during an interview with ESPN the magazine, LeBron unleashed what will always be my favorite quote from him when he said:
I realize that things change over time, but a wise man once said that his word is all that a man truly has at the end of the day (don't ask for the source on that quote).
Going by that advice, LeBron should have realized that if he was once so publicly against "ring-chasing", as he calls it, then he couldn't have looked like more of a hypocrite when he ditched Cleveland and headed for South Beach.