Last Friday was the one-year Anniversary of one of the most memorable moments in the history of sports. It was not only a career defining moment for LeBron James, but it was a defining moment in the history of the Cleveland Cavaliers franchise and a moment that Cleveland fans will never forget. It will be burned in their memory banks the same way The Drive, The Fumble, The Shot, and some of the other horrible moments in Cleveland sports history are.
It was one year ago last Friday when, as the world was watching a one-hour made for TV event, LeBron James announced to the world that he was going to be “taking his talents to south beach.” The one-hour special, known as “The Decision” has led to LeBron James going from one of the most popular and well-liked players in the NBA to the game’s biggest villain.
After having more time to reflect on what LeBron James did on July 8th 2010, it was a terrible move. Not from a basketball standpoint though. On one hand LeBron had the option to go wherever he wanted go in free agency and he did a lot of good for charity on that night. Ont he other hand, LeBron James said numerous times that he understood the pain of Clevelanders during his time with the Cavs. Then he went and stuck a dagger in the heart of every Cleveland sports fan that night. One year later the sting of that “decision” has not worn off and probably won’t anytime soon either.
Jim Gray joined The Dan Patrick Show to talk about how he feels about The Decision on year later, how the whole thing came about, whether or not he knew where LeBron was going before the announcement was made, if he had a gut feeling where he was going when he saw him that night, and if he would do it all over again if he had the option.
How the idea came about:
“I was with my wife and I think it was game two of the NBA Finals between the Celtics and the Lakers in Los Angeles at the Staples Center and I was sitting in the stands and walked down at halftime to say hello to Maverick Carter, who was sitting in the front row with Ari Emanuel. We just got to talking and David Geffen, one of Jeffrey Katzenberg’s and Steven Spielberg’s partners was sitting with him as well and we just got to talking and I said to Maverick it’s going to be an interesting summer and I would like to do the first interview with LeBron when he decides on his team. He said you know we can think about that, that’s not a bad idea. I had a history with LeBron. Interviewed him when he was in high school, did his first game when he played against the Sacramento Kings, was there the night that Gordon Gund won the lottery for the Cleveland Cavaliers, interviewed him on the night of the Draft and so on and so forth. I had known LeBron for some time so he said he would consider that. Then I said better yet why don’t we announce his decision live on television and go buy an hour of air time on a network and just explain it to all the fans at one time where he is deciding to go. Ari jumped in and said that’s a brilliant idea. Maverick said ‘you think so? Can you put this together?’ Ari said we gotta do this. Maverick said we can give a lot of money to charity and it just kinda went from there. That’s how it started, just kept in touch every once in awhile texting Maverick throughout the course of whatever it was, the next three or four weeks, and it became The Decision.”
When he saw LeBron that night and he thought LeBron was feeling:
“I had seen him a couple of hours before over at a staging home just outside of Greenwich and we were over there to shoot a charity component for the show. LeBron was over there he arrived and seemed pensive. Then he got into the chair 15 or 20 minutes before the program went on and we rode over there. You could tell that this wasn’t something that was easy for him. Obviously this had been a place where he had spent his whole life, in Akron and in Cleveland. I think it was a tough deal for him. He wasn’t unhappy. He was happy with what he had decided to do or going to do, but it wasn’t jovial, there wasn’t any champagne or corks going off. His fiancée was in the car and a couple of other people mainly texting. I think it was tough deal for him.”
Whether or not he knew where LeBron was going before the announcement:
“I did not. I didn’t want to know because I wanted it to be real and I didn’t want to make a mistake mainly. I didn’t want to be the one to blurt this out accidentally.”
If he could tell by his body language what LeBron was going to do:
“I could tell by the time he sat in the chair he was not staying in Cleveland. That was just my impression. He did not tell me and I did not ask.”
What criticism has surprised him the most since The Decision:
“Just that there is so much of it. This after all was just a television show. I think what had probably happened is that everybody in New York and New Jersey were hoping it was the Nets and Knicks. He had meetings with them and the folks in Los Angeles, the folks in Chicago, and the people back in Cleveland, everybody had their hopes up. When he finally decided on Miami all the people in all those other cities were disappointed because they all wanted him to play there. There’s only one place you can play at a time. I think it just got built into such a thing where there was a letdown in all these other cities. I’m surprised that it still gets the attention that it gets. I’m surprised at the reaction when you go to certain cities and he does to play in certain cities and they’re booing. A lot of those cities didn’t even have a chance to get him. I don’t think that anybody could’ve foreseen what has gone on. Did you foresee this?”
Would like a mulligan?
“Mulligan in terms of what I would have asked? (Host: Yeah. Anything.) I probably would’ve asked LeBron to explain why we were at the Boys and Girls Club because to the audience, in looking back at the tape, we never said why we were there.”
Why he believes it wasn’t a celebratory thing with LeBron:
“Well I think it was hard. I think it’s tough. I mean he’s from there. It’s where all of his friends are and all of his roots. I think he tried his best to figure out a way to stay a Cavalier. It became hard for him to recruit anybody to come and play. Up until that morning or the evening before he said he had an open mind and was trying to figure out where to go. Chris Bosh wasn’t coming there, Dwyane Wade wasn’t coming there, and Chris Paul was a possibility of a trade going on and it was impossible for anybody that he wanted to play with, to make the team better, to recruit to the Cavaliers at that moment. He just decided I guess, and I can’t speak for him and I can’t tell you what all of the groundwork and all of the thoughts were for him to make his decision, he has to do that, but I just think it was a tough thing. Was it a celebration? Look there was no good way I guess to leave Cleveland. He had a lot of roots there and he tried very hard to win and at the end of the day it was hard.”
On what rumor bothers him the most:
“That I was paid by LeBron. That’s just ridiculous and that’s just insanity for someone to totally fabricate and for it to become a life of its own that LeBron James would pay an interviewer to interview him. That damages journalistic credibility to say the subject interviewing you is paying you like you’re in their pocket, well that couldn’t be further from the truth.”
Whether or not he would do the show all over again:
“Would I do the show again? (Host: Yeah.) Yes. We’d all make it better.”