Remembering the Legacy of LeBron James’ “The Decision”

Every NBA occurrence and trend stemmed from LeBron James' decision on July 7, 2010 to leave the Cavaliers for the Heat.

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In the realm of sports conversation, we tend to consume what we claim to hate most. While catching a workout in my cousin’s garage, I scrolled through my podcast log last week to see a flurry of conversations marking 10 years since The Decision. Something about that faithful summer day and the fury that followed still captivates the sports world. As one sports podcaster put it, “it turned me off.”

LeBron James joined the Heat in a widely scrutinized TV special 10 years ago. The mechanics and reception of the event continues to gain widespread scrutiny as the anniversary passed in July, with countless retrospectives, podcasts and even an origin documentary. Format non-withstanding, the Decision itself to go from the Cavaliers to the Heat changed fortunes wildly in San Antonio, Dallas, Golden State and even eventually the Cavaliers in ways that would've been unlikely if James decided to simply stay with his original Cavs team. James' decision could be the greatest inflection point in NBA history. Listen to the full episode here: https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=JJ1Gyq2iTykSubscribe to Dome Theory Podcast with Bobby Manning for more sports, music and culture discussions: https://audioboom.com/posts/7622745-lebron-james-the-decision-10-years-later-nba-return-2020-and-orlando-bubbleThe CLNS Media Network is the leading provider for video/audio content. CLNS is a fully credentialed member of the media with access to all NFL/NBA/NHL/MLB teams & venues.———————————————————————————VISIT US AT https://clnsmedia.comFor CLNS Media Production Studio, go to http://youtube.com/clnsmediaFollow CLNS Media on Twitter – @CLNSMediaFollow CLNS Media on Facebook – http://facebook.com/clnsmediaFollow CLNS Media on INSTA – http://Instagram.com/clnsmediaDownload the FREE CLNS Media mobile app for iOS & GooglePlay

The Decision’s TV special still gains scrutiny and debate from critics claiming to hate what it created. Our CEO Nick Gelso called it the lone mistake of LeBron James’ career. Nobody can argue the decision itself did not make sense though.

James won back-to-back championships with the Miami Heat and evolved as a player before returning to win one for the Cleveland Cavaliers. The branch-off effects of that introduce a long conversation about how it impacted the last decade. We discussed that legacy on Dome Theory Sports & Culture with Cavaliers writer Justin Rowan.

In the realm of sports conversation, we tend to consume what we claim to hate most. While catching a workout in my cousin's garage, I scrolled through my podcast log last week to see a flurry of conversations marking 10 years since The Decision. Something about that faithful summer day and the fury

James’ decision set up two of the greatest NBA Finals of all time (2013 and 2016). It prepared the Cavaliers to stab at draft picks until they acquired Kyrie Irving, Tristan Thompson and Andrew Wiggins, ushering LeBron’s return. The San Antonio Spurs built their own pseudo-dynasty off their heroics against the Big Three Heat. Increased player movement that followed emboldened one of the most controversial free agency signings ever when Kevin Durant signed with the Golden State Warriors.

“After Kyrie and Tristan were drafted, I was the one saying LeBron was coming back,” Rowan said. “I was pitching conspiracy theories.”

LeBron James made his historic decision just over one decade ago to join the Miami Heat and its newly formed big three. The Cavaliers tried to retain him on a six-year deal and failed, leaving a gaping hole on a team that relied on him for nearly everything between 2003-2010. The Cavs went on a record losing streak during 2010-11 following Dan Gilbert's infamous letter, and it looked like there'd be little hope in Cleveland through losing seasons that followed. Nevertheless, they stockpiled key pieces like Kyrie Irving and Tristan Thompson through their attempted rebuild, before one more No. 1 pick aligned with James' free agency in 2014. Justin Rowan appeared on Dome Theory Podcast with Bobby Manning to discuss how he saw "the return" coming after "The Decision" and how it created one of the greatest teams in Cavaliers history and their first title in 2016. Listen to the full episode here: https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=JJ1Gyq2iTykSubscribe & listen to Dome Theory here: https://audioboom.com/posts/7622745-lebron-james-the-decision-10-years-later-nba-return-2020-and-orlando-bubbleThe CLNS Media Network is the leading provider for video/audio content. CLNS is a fully credentialed member of the media with access to all NFL/NBA/NHL/MLB teams & venues.———————————————————————————VISIT US AT https://clnsmedia.comFor CLNS Media Production Studio, go to http://youtube.com/clnsmediaFollow CLNS Media on Twitter – @CLNSMediaFollow CLNS Media on Facebook – http://facebook.com/clnsmediaFollow CLNS Media on INSTA – http://Instagram.com/clnsmediaDownload the FREE CLNS Media mobile app for iOS & GooglePlay

While many feared an era of Warriors inevitability, it produced a massive influx of hate watching. Instead of shuddering, teams like the Houston Rockets rallied around the challenge of toppling the greatest team ever. The Raptors used Kawhi Leonard’s flex of player power in 2018-19 to win one of the most surprising championships in NBA history.

“It was the ushering of a new era,” Rowan said. “It really ushered in the era of player empowerment … owners, with the CBA, going with shorter contracts. That really enabled players to have a little more power over where they’re going to play.”

Where is player movement going next? This upcoming free agency class is the weakest of any in the last decade, but next fall could bring decision time for Giannis Antetokounmpo, who is on his way to back-to-back NBA MVPs. Ten years ago, LeBron James changed player movement with The Decision and ushered in an intense decade of player movement unseen in American sports before. Will the coronavirus' impact on the NBA salary cap limit the movement possible for players, or will trade demands and short contracts continue to allow players to prioritize themselves over the most money possible?Listen to Justin Rowan and Bobby Manning's full remembrance of The Decision here: https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=JJ1Gyq2iTykSubscribe and rate The Dome Theory Podcast here: https://audioboom.com/channel/the-bobcastThe CLNS Media Network is the leading provider for video/audio content. CLNS is a fully credentialed member of the media with access to all NFL/NBA/NHL/MLB teams & venues.———————————————————————————VISIT US AT https://clnsmedia.comFor CLNS Media Production Studio, go to http://youtube.com/clnsmediaFollow CLNS Media on Twitter – @CLNSMediaFollow CLNS Media on Facebook – http://facebook.com/clnsmediaFollow CLNS Media on INSTA – http://Instagram.com/clnsmediaDownload the FREE CLNS Media mobile app for iOS & GooglePlay

The trends The Decision sparked still exist. LeBron and Kawhi Leonard can become free agents in coming seasons. Giannis Antetokounmpo’s free agency next summer is already capturing the imaginations of big markets like Miami and Golden State around the league. His decision, more than any other, will likely set the standard of player movement around the NBA for this upcoming decade.

“I think if Giannis says I’m going to stay in Milwaukee, I’m going to build around them,” he said. “I think that will change the culture of the NBA.”

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