This year marked the 10-year anniversary of one of the most polarizing events in sports history: LeBron James’ The Decision. The opinion continues to be divisive and filled with vitriol. In Part 1, I’ll introduce the background on that infamous summer, For Part 2, I decided to ask a couple of my Nerds on Tap regulars to share their thoughts on “that thing.” Finally, Part 3 will discuss the aftermath.
Allow me to take you back to the spring of 2010…Actually, a better place to start would be the spring of 2008, which is when the Chicago Bulls managed to defy the odds—1.8% to be specific—and won the #1 pick in that year’s draft lottery. Coming out that year was the phenom from Simeon High School, Derrick Rose, and Kansas State’s Michael Beasley. The debate over Rose vs Beasley was hotly contested. Rose had a breakout rookie season, winning Rookie of the Year, becoming the third Bull to win the award (Michael Jordan—1985 and Elton Brand—2000). With Rose at the point, the Bulls took the defending champion Boston Celtics to seven games. The Celtics, buoyed by the Big 3—Kevin Garnett, Ray Allen, and Paul Pierce were seeking to defend their title.
The 2009-2010 campaign: The Bulls finished the season 41-41 and were bounced in 5 games by the LeBron James-led Cleveland Cavaliers. The 2010 NBA offseason was setting up to be one for the ages with a multitude of big-name free agents, with LeBron James being the most coveted of them all. Bulls fans were hyped! The team had the cap room to sign 2 marquee free agents to max deals to pair with Rose and Joakim Noah. To cap it off, the Bulls had hired Boston’s defensive architect Tom Thibodeau as their new head coach. Thibodeau had seemed to be a lock to become the head coach of the young Oklahoma City Thunder. The Bulls’ #1 objective was to sign James and possibly Chicago native, Dwyane Wade. The likelihood of luring Wade away from Miami, where Miami-Dade County had become known to local fans as Miami-Wade County was low, but the Bulls, poised with cap room and an explosive player like Rose, still under his rookie deal, all signs pointed to Chicago as the landing spot for James. We all felt it. Most wanted James. Many questions lingered, “what would his jersey number be with #23 being retired?” excitement was at a fever pitch.
However, behind the scenes and to the great dismay of many, Pat Riley was engineering an audacious plot, one in which James, Wade, and Chris Bosh of the Toronto Raptors were about to unveil. A plan hatched during the 2004 Olympics that would send not only the NBA, but the sports world into chaos. Remember, the Bulls had the cap space to sign 2 free agents. No one in a major market could sign 3 to max deals. Wade re-signed with Miami, surprising no one. Hours later Bosh signed with Miami, appearing to clear the path for James to Chicago. James, in partnership with the Boys & Girls Club and ESPN, decided to televise James’ announcement. The stage was set for an epic event. Ignoring all the reports from Chris Broussard, I was prepared to hear LeBron James say on national TV he was signing with the Bulls. The house was silent as James, clad in a blue, red, and black checkered shirt said, “in this fall I’m going to take my talents to…South Beach and join the Miami Heat…”
Stay tuned for Part Two: The Heatles and the Rose Magical Mystery Tour: 10 years of The Decision.
“Taking my talents to South Beach” reading list HERE!