As we approach the 10-year anniversary of LeBron James’ infamous decision, we’re doing a series of articles remembering the occasion in which we break down everything that happened each day of 2010 free agency leading up to James’ momentous announcement that he’d be joining Dwyane Wade and Chris Bosh as a member of the Miami Heat.
So far, we’ve covered Day 1, Day 2, Day 3, Day 4 and Day 5 pre-Decision, when James met with the New Jersey Nets, New York Knicks Knicks, Los Angeles Clippers, Chicago Bulls and Heat, and teams were waiting on word of when an announcement of James’ intentions might come.
On Day 6, finally, there was word of when The Decision would be.
A TON OF UNCERTAINTY SURROUNDING LEBRON
It was Tuesday, July 6, and still, there wasn’t any idea of when James might decide, about which team he might be leaning towards or when the announcement would take place.
And that might have been because James was legitimately still undecided after a weekend of well-put-together meetings.
The Bulls, in particular, did well in selling James on the possibility of joining their elite young core featuring Derrick Rose and Joakim Noah, the former of whom was one season away from winning league MVP and the latter of whom was already showing signs of being one of the top two-way big men in the Association.
If purely winning was James’ main priority as far as deciding on his next team in 2010, not many franchises could sell themselves as well as Chicago at that time – and James took notice, reportedly liking the idea of playing with the Bulls’ young super duo.
However, the feeling wasn’t exactly mutual, at least not according to Brian Windhorst at the time:
Perhaps Rose didn’t want to share so much of the ball with a high-usage player such as James (he ended up being right about wanting to be Chicago’s top playmaker, too, considering he posted a spectacular MVP campaign the very next year and led the Bulls to 62 regular-season wins), but no matter the reason, Rose wasn’t exactly rolling out the red carpet for James in Chicago.
According to Windhorst, it wasn’t that Rose was completely against playing with James, but that he preferred another major free agent who was also available that summer… Joe Johnson.
Truth be told, Johnson would have been a fantastic fit on that Bulls roster, providing the elite shooting that they so desperately needed that next season, particularly come playoff time.
Regardless, one member in James’ camp was pushing hard for James to choose Chicago, and that was William Wesley, better known as World Wide Wes, to the point that it was causing a rift among those closest to James.
Adrian Wojnarowski, who was then with Yahoo! Sports, reported the same the day prior, which gave the Cavs newfound hope that they could wind up being James’ destination with Wesley out of the picture. Cleveland’s new head coach, Byron Scott, even went so far as to give the Cavs strong odds to re-sign their superstar small forward, telling ESPN 710 that Tuesday:
“This is just a gut feeling. If I’m going by my gut feeling I would say there is a 75 to 85 percent chance. I feel really good about that. In talking with Chris and Lance they feel really good about it and I’m sure Dan [Gilbert, Cavs owners] does as well. We feel we’re going to present a very good case and we’re looking forward to it.”
Regardless, with Wesley momentarily sidelined, that left James with just “a couple of people” he could talk about his decision with, likely his manager Maverick Carter and agent at the time, Leon Rose.
To that end, things were starting to get tense on the James free-agency front, to the point that media weren’t being allowed to ask him any questions about it and were even kicked out of Rhodes Arena, where James was working out that Tuesday.
FINALLY, A POTENTIAL ANNOUNCEMENT DATE
Also relevant to James that Tuesday: The then-25-year-old joined Twitter, which led to some speculation that he could announce his decision through the now-popular social media platform.
That was quickly shut down by Windhorst, but James joining Twitter sent people online into a tizzy anyway.
At last, however, late on Tuesday, we finally learned of an announcement date for James. It was Chris Broussard who broke the news, informing the basketball collective that James would be making his decision in an hour-long special on ESPN.
ESPN wasn’t informed of which team James would choose, but the fact that they landed his announcement show was a coup regardless. James also was given the choice of which reporter would be the one allowed to interview him on the monumental special, and his team decided on Jim Gray over Stuart Scott and Michael Wilbon.
So there we had it: A free-agent decision date for the best player in the world, and it was fewer than 48 hours away.
Even closer than that?
A major joint announcement from Wade and Bosh that would set the stage for Miami to change the basketball landscape forever.
You can follow Frank Urbina on Twitter: @FrankUrbina_.