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, and Day 6 pre-Decision, when James had already met with the New Jersey Nets, New York Knicks Knicks, Los Angeles Clippers, Chicago Bulls and Heat, and Miami’s plan finally began to take shape.
Day 7 started off with a bang, as Wade and Bosh free-agency news began to leak just past midnight.
WADE, BOSH MAKE DECISIONS
The fireworks finally started to fly on July 7, with news that it was going to be Miami for Wade and Bosh finally leaking on that day.
What’s more, Adrian Wojnarowski and Marc J. Spears, two ESPN reporters who were with Yahoo! Sports at the time, reported that the Heat’s new superstar pairing was still recruiting James to form a Big Three with them:
“Dwyane Wade and Chris Bosh have decided to sign with the Miami Heat while continuing to recruit LeBron James to help them form an All-Star triumvirate that threatens to shift the NBA’s balance of power, two sources with knowledge of the plans told Yahoo! Sports. ‘They think they’ve got a real chance to pull this off with LeBron,’ a league source said.”
The report also stated that James’ decision was likely coming down to Miami or the Cleveland Cavaliers, with the New York Knicks just on the outside looking in.
However, James joining Wade and Bosh with the Heat was still far from a foregone conclusion at that point, even if Miami did greatly strengthen their case by landing commitments from the star 2-guard and power forward.
In the event that the Heat didn’t land James, Miami was preparing to offer Mike Miller, one of that summer’s top role-playing free agents, their leftover cap space to join Wade and Bosh. (Pretty crazy that the Heat wound up landing Miller on top of their Big Three.)
‘THE DECISION’ SPECIAL BECOMES OFFICIAL
Word of The Decision came on Day 6 of James’ free agency in 2010, but it didn’t become official until Day 7, when James’ website, LeBronJames.com, announced that the hour-long special would take place on the next day, July 8, at 9 pm EST on ESPN.
“Maverick Carter, CEO of LRMR Marketing, said today that LeBron James will formally announce where he will play next season and beyond on ‘The Decision,’ which will air live on Thursday, July 8, at 9 pm ET on ESPN. Due to the unprecedented attention and interest surrounding LeBron’s decision, we have decided to make this announcement on national television. By doing so we have generated funds that will be given to the Boys and Girls Clubs of America. LeBron has a longstanding commitment to giving back to the community, and has worked with the Boys and Girls Clubs in cities across the country.For additional information and any other announcements concerning ‘The Decision,’ check with http://www.LebronJames.com”
The announcement was kept such a secret and discussed by such a small portion of James’ team that even people who were close to the superstar forward were surprised by it.
The backlash towards The Decision wouldn’t reach epic proportions until the following evening when it actually took place, but right off the bat, some people didn’t love the idea of a player announcing his next team in such a public manner.
Among those people was longtime NBA head coach Stan Van Gundy, coach of the Orlando Magic at the time, who said:
“It’s gotten ridiculous. It’s almost like a parody of itself, this whole situation now. Come on, an hour long? It takes 15 seconds to say I’ve decided to stay in Cleveland but we’ve got another 59 minutes and 45 seconds to, what? Promote LeBron James? As if we don’t do that enough. Look, the guy’s a great player and wherever he goes, my bet would be Cleveland, that place will be excited. But an hour-long special?”
Van Gundy, always great for a memorable quote, provided us with a pretty fantastic one there.
The Decision also caused many, including Kenny “The Jet” Smith, to think that Cleveland was out of the race for James since it didn’t make a whole lot of sense for him to make such a public announcement in Connecticut when he could have just done it in Cleveland if he was going to re-sign there.
STILL HOPE IN THE BIG APPLE
Although all of the signs pointed to James being down to Miami and Cleveland, there was still some hope in New York that he would pull an absolute shocker and choose the Knicks.
Amare Stoudemire, who had agreed to join the Knicks a few days prior, was publicly lobbying for James to join him in the Big Apple and, apparently, so was… Carmelo Anthony, who was still with the Denver Nuggets at the time. That’s according to a report from ESPN, who shared the following:
“Dwyane Wade and Chris Bosh are lobbying James to join them in Miami, and Amare Stoudemire and Carmelo Anthony – scheduled to be a free agent next summer – are selling James on the possibilities in New York, according to a source close to the situation.”
Who knows how true that was, but merely months later, Anthony did publicly demand – and was granted – a trade to the Knicks, so there could be something to that rumor.
Various pro athletes were also hearing among their circles that James would be choosing New York during The Decision, among them, Jared Dudley, now a James teammate in Los Angeles, and Chad Ochocinco, former NFL star wide receiver.
How hilarious would it have been for Dudley to have been right, and for it be him to break the news and not Woj, Brian Windhorst or another major NBA reporter?
11-year NBA veteran Charlie Villanueva was also hearing something similar:
It wasn’t just players hearing that New York was still firmly in the race, either. A team spokesperson for the Knicks told Newsday on July 7 that because no one from James’ team had told them they were officially out of the race, they were holding out hope they still had a chance to land the multi-time league MVP’s signature.
Wall Street also must have thought the Knicks had a chance, as evidenced by stock in Madison Square Garden jumping 6.4 percent to $21.57 on July 7, on five times their normal trading volume, per CBS Sports.
James’ Nike contract didn’t have a bonus for him playing in New York, though, which Darren Rovell reported that day.
Either way, the frenzy was about to hit its apex, with The Decision set to become official the very next day.
You can follow Frank Urbina on Twitter: @FrankUrbina_.