Tuesday was the four-year anniversary of The Decision and while we remember the televised event with Jim Gray, and the subsequent “not one, not two, not three, not four” press conference/celebration in Miami two days afterwards, we’ve forgotten about all the chaos surrounding the actual announcement that King James was leaving Ohio. The rumors about LeBron’s meetings were about a million times more inaccurate, social media was an entirely different landscape and there was more to the Cleveland-area fallout than just jersey burnings.
Here’s a look at the things we all forgot about The Decision. #StayWoke
1. Dan Gilbert lowered Fathead prices for LeBron Wall Stickers to $17.41
We all know about his scathing Comic Sans letter that was finally taken off the team’s official website this week. But this move was infinitely more revealing of Dan Gilbert’s contempt and bitterness towards losing his franchise player.
You see, Gilbert owns Fathead, the company that offers wall decals. After LeBron chose the Heat, Gilbert slashed the price of LeBron wall stickers to $17.41. The significance of 1741? That was the year Benedict Arnold was born. This was Gilbert’s subtweet to LeBron that he was a coward and a traitor. As far as #petty goes, this move belongs as a first ballot Hall of Famer.1 of 13
2. The New Jersey Nets had to settle for a different Big Three
The Nets were one of the teams that met with LeBron in person leading up to The Decision. With the power tandem of Mikhail Prokhorov and Jay Z, they entertained themselves as serious contenders for LeBron. The meeting apparently went well, which was what every team said after their respective pitches.
After the Nets swung and missed on landing LeBron, they went to Plan B. It was quite a plan: Travis Outlaw for five years, $35 million; Jordan Farmar for three years, $12 million; Johan Petro for three years, $10 million and this classic photo of “The Big Three” plus Anthony Morrow who was acquired in a sign-and-trade.
Remember, the Nets were coming off a season where they finished 12-70 and needed to start contending in preparation for their move to Brooklyn. But the Outlaw-Farmar-Petro trio kind of redefines the term settling for less.2 of 13
3. The Nets also got the saddest headline
The Nets also headed into the 2010 offseason without a general manager or head coach. They signed on Avery Johnson as head coach a month before The Decision but didn’t end up hiring Billy King as president of basketball ops until after King James took his talents to South Beach. That move was heralded in a true #sadboyz headline.
In King’s tenure, the Nets have been in constant win-now mode, which has led to trades such as Gerald Wallace for a first round draft pick that turned into Damian Lillard, a max contract extension for Deron Williams who looks like a shell of his former self, and a paying upwards of $190 million in salaries last season for a second round exit in the East.
Avery Johnson’s long gone and his second replacement tried to stage a coup and wound up in Milwaukee—which actually might not be the worst move for the franchise all things considered. You could trace the road the Nets have gone down back to the summer of 2010.
4. The Clippers were a contender for LeBron
They were one of the teams that got a meeting with LeBron in Cleveland because they had money to spend and could sell Blake Griffin as an up-and-coming running mate.
Of course, this would have meant Donald Sterling signing the best player in the league, a move that, in retrospect, might have made LeBron yearn for the routine pettiness of Dan Gilbert. The details of the meeting between the Clippers and LeBron are here. At one point, LeBron asked about the Clippers’ vacant coaching position and was assured the team was looking at Vinny Del Negro as a potential candidate. That’s probably when LeBron pulled out his notepad and crossed the Clippers off the list.4 of 13
5. The Cavs went emo during their pitch
Dan Gilbert apparently showed a “Family Guy”-based cartoon that was meant to tug at LeBron’s heart strings. It seems like a hilarious move now, of course. The gist of Gilbert’s angle was basically: let’s focus on selling the city and not the team because we surely have not done a great job of building a contender around LeBron.
It’s a shame the cartoon was never leaked, but it’s probably for the best. We all know what happened when Don Draper tried to sell Hershey’s on the nostalgic angle.5 of 13
6. The Knicks signed Amar’e Stoudemire to lure LeBron
Before LeBron made his decision, the Knicks committed to a five-year deal with Amar’e Stoudemire. In fact, after reaching the agreement with him, LeBron requested a second meeting with the Knicks to clarify the details of the deal and whether there was still room for him, and what kind of cap space would be available to pursue other players.
The Amar’e signing was met with a lot of skepticism because of his injury history, and the fact that Knicks’ long-term deal would be uninsured. Lest we forget, in his first season in New York, Amar’e was incredible, rejuvenating a city that was just coming out of the Isiah Thomas era. But today, with one year remaining, Amar’e’s athleticism is gone and he hasn’t even come close to living up to the contract, which is what everyone said when the deal was signed.
7. LeBron and Bosh could've united in Cleveland
This was one of the many rumors floating around during the free agency period. Whether it actually was a realistic contemplation, we’ll never know. But it illustrates a larger point: even if the Big Three of Bron, Wade and Bosh wanted to team up, in some form, it didn’t necessarily have to be in Miami. Chicago was eager to land one, two or all three of the free agents, and even the Cavs could have made a combination of LeBron and Bosh work.
So while LeBron ended up leaving Cleveland, for a week there existed the possibility of not only LeBron staying, but convincing another superstar to come to the Cavs.7 of 13
8. The Bulls regrouped and signed Carlos Boozer
After missing out on the Big Three, the Bulls lured Carlos Boozer from the Utah Jazz with a huge contract to pair him up with Derrick Rose. They also spent that summer bringing in Kyle Korver, Ronnie Brewer and C.J. Watson.
The first season with Boozer was a success—Derrick Rose won the MVP award and the Bulls made it to the Eastern Conference Finals before losing to the Heat in five games. By last season, though, Boozer was losing minutes to Taj Gibson in the fourth quarter. He’s now on his way to being amnestied this summer, once again to open up cap space for the Bulls to chase free agents. This is the NBA, where you sign players to large contracts, then have to use a clause to get rid of them, so you can start all over again and sign another player to a large contract.8 of 13
9. There were rumors The Decision would be held at Allan Houston’s house
No one knew which way LeBron was leaning prior to his announcement. Even he said during The Decision that he made his choice when he woke up that day. Once it was announced it would turn his free agency decision into a nationally televised event, reporters scurried to try and get the scoop.
The Knicks were considered a potential front runner at the time, especially having secured a commitment from Amar’e, and people generally liked the idea of LeBron trying to make New York his city. So, beat reporters even went as far to speculate that the entire event was going to be held at Allan Houston’s house. Houston was of course, an employee of the Knicks and thought to be the next in line to take over the team’s general manager position.9 of 13
10. LeBron joined Twitter for the first time just days before The Decision
We think of LeBron as a social media king now, in light of his very active Twitter and Instagram accounts and, of course, the postseason-long promotion of his LeBron app. But remember, during his tenure in Cleveland, and before Twitter became what it was today, LeBron was not active on social media at all. He didn’t sign up for a Twitter account until several days before The Decision. LeBron amassed 90,000 followers before he even sent out a tweet. And his bio read: King of Akron.
11. Jared Dudley tried to be an NBA reporter
There was a time when Jared Dudley was one of the foremost athlete presence on social media, a role now filled ably by Kenny Anderson. Considering himself a bit of a personality, Dudley would often engage in conversations fans liked to have online, about other players or speculating about where free agents were going. The day before The Decision, Dudley took to Twitter and said his sources told him LeBron was going to New York.11 of 13
12. Kanye West fell asleep at The Decision
One of the best parts of the broadcast was Kanye West being on location at The Decision, falling asleep and leaving before LeBron made his announcement. His entire presence there warrants its own 30 for 30 documentary, and we probably could have used a separate Jim Gray-Kanye West interview to liven things up a little, because it was really tense that evening. For the record: Kanye wore his sunglasses indoor that night because Kanye.12 of 13
13. The most iconic Cleveland photo wasn't the jersey burning
Nope. This photo of the LeBron James Grandmothers Fan Club reacting to his announcement encompassed the pain of the entire city of Cleveland in one photo. The Cavs of course are again in contention for LeBron’s services this offseason. If it matters, the fan club is doing its part in urging LeBron to come home this week.13 of 13