May 27, 2014 Louisville, KY.
Rewind back to July 8th 2010. This was the day Lebron James decided to take his talents from Cleveland to Miami, in what is known now as the infamous “Decision”. Legends of the game such as Charles Barkley, Magic Johnson, and Michael Jordan all thought the decision was a huge mistake and made statements of why players from their era would not have teamed up with other NBA all stars in a chase for championships. Let’s have a look at some of the quotes.
“There’s no way, with hindsight, I would’ve ever called up Larry [Bird], called up Magic [Johnson] and said, ‘Hey, look, let’s get together and play on one team,'” Jordan said after playing in a celebrity golf tournament in Nevada. The interview aired on the NBC telecast of the event. “But that’s … things are different. I can’t say that’s a bad thing. It’s an opportunity these kids have today. In all honesty, I was trying to beat those guys.”
“He’ll never be Jordan,” Barkley told 790 The Ticket in Miami earlier in the week. “This clearly takes him out of the conversation. He can win as much as he wants to.
“There would have been something honorable about staying in Cleveland and trying to win it as ‘The Man’ … LeBron, if he would’ve in Cleveland, and if he could’ve got a championship there, it would have been over the top for his legacy, just one in Cleveland. No matter how many he wins in Miami, it clearly is Dwyane Wade’s team.”
“We didn’t think about it cause that’s not what we were about,” said Johnson, whose Michigan State squad beat Bird’s Indiana State team in the 1979 National Collegiate Athletic Association championship. “From college, I was trying to figure out how to beat Larry Bird.”
It seemed everyone wanted Lebron to follow in the footsteps of Michael Jordan. Stay with a team that drafted you and build the team into a contender through draft picks and trades. The Chicago Bulls organization were able to draft a NBA All-Star to help Michael and the Cleveland Cavaliers did not. If you put a player of Scottie Pippen’s Caliber next to Lebron at Cleveland and I believe we have a different decision in 2010. Jordan acts like he had absolutely no one helping him on them Bulls teams. Hey Mike remember when you wanted to take off and play baseball for a couple of years? Well the 2 years you were gone the Bulls were still good enough to make it to the NBA Finals. Plus you had the greatest coach in the game in Phil Jackson. Now on to Mr. Charles Barkley. Didn’t you demand to be traded to a contender in 1992 from the Philadelphia 76ers? How soft of you. Why didn’t you stay at Philly and compete for 1 championship for your legacy? Instead Barkley gets traded to the Phoenix Suns to team up with two All-stars in Kevin Johnson, and Dan Majerle. That was a huge mistake on your part, and the melt down you guys had in the Finals against the Bulls is laughable when you look back on it. Sir Charles says James will never be Jordan, well Mr. Barkley you will never be called a World Champion. Lebron 2 Barkley 0. Magic Johnson didn’t have to think about playing with Larry Bird, because he had Hall of Famers around him during his time at the Lakers. He was also coached by the 2nd best coach in the game in Pat Riley. Where’s the empathy for Lebron in his decision? Hypothetical question, If Lebron was drafted into the Lakers organization to play for a Hall of Fame coach and with Hall of Fame players, do you think he would have left that situation? Let me answer this rhetorical question for you, Absolutely Not!
Fans and the media got in on the criticism along with Cavaliers owner Dan Gilbert. Gilbert had this to say after Lebron announced to leave Cleveland for Miami “I PERSONALLY GUARANTEE THAT THE CLEVELAND CAVALIERS WILL WIN AN NBA CHAMPIONSHIP BEFORE THE SELF-TITLED FORMER ‘KING’ WINS ONE.”
All the negative criticism with the decision and the welcome party the Miami Heat had on July 9th 2010 led most of the country to label Lebron James as villain and one of the most hated person in sports. Radio shows, talk shows, and fans across the country in general wanted to see Lebron James downfall at any cost. When the Heat reach the Finals during their first season together in 2011 and lost the championship to the Dallas Mavericks, many people were extremely happy about rubbing the defeat in Lebron’s face.
Fast Forward the time to May 27, 2014 and now King James has 2 back to back championships and is one game away from reaching his 4th consecutive NBA Finals. Where are all the critics now? It’s been extremely quiet over these last couple of years. I believe all the critics need to eat their words, because Lebron’s legacy is still intact. Lebron has since admitted that the one-hour TV decision was the wrong move. How Lebron went about the decision to leave Cleveland may have been wrong, but that doesn’t make the overall decision to leave wrong. Sometimes the unpopular decision is the RIGHT decision. Lebron’s legacy is intact as he pursues his 3rd NBA championship in 4 years. I guess he wasn’t lying when he said NOT 1 NOT 2, NOT 3, but 4 straight Finals.