Superstar LeBron James took on a ton of hate for leaving the Cleveland Cavaliers to join the Miami Heat 10 years ago. In an interview with Taylor Rooks of Bleacher Report, New Orleans Pelicans veteran J.J. Redick explained how James’ decision drew hate because he was a powerful black man making a consequential choice for himself.
Storyline: The Decision
The declaration harkened back to a teenaged Kobe Bryant, Oakley shades resting on his shaved head, cocksurely announcing that he was skipping college to join the NBA. But it lacked all of the youthful charm, naivety replaced with narcissism in the eyes of many who watched the audacious spectacle unfold. James’s “Decision” remains one of the glaring blemishes on a relatively pristine career that has already reserved prime shelf space among the greatest to ever do it. The show became a Maury-Povich-style, made-for-TV breakup from a championship-starved city that adored and worshipped him in an unhealthy way. In dumping his frumpy long-time love for a prettier, sexier alternative offering rings and things, James immediately and reluctantly became the NBA’s resident villain.
For those who happened to be in the building when James sat uncomfortably in that purple and white gingham shirt across from reporter Jim Gray – engaging in tedious small talk and empty platitudes before turning the league on its head – the moment still resonates a decade later. They’ve had visitors walk onto the court looking for the place where James became a meme. They recall the awkward silence when the mystery team was revealed, the boisterous sound of angry New York Knicks fans outside smashing bottles in frustration with James coming so close to their home to deliver a rejection. They remember that the only time James expressed any joy that night was when he was waving at kids and smiling during commercial breaks.
”I actually felt bad for LeBron James,” DeAngelo said of his observations of the evening, “because I just got a sense that he was disappointed that he got talked into doing it that way. He was really uptight and nervous. I could be wrong but when I looked at him that night, I remember thinking, ‘If he could’ve done this differently, he would have been at his house and been on his sofa and maybe done it that way.’ I didn’t talk to LeBron about that, but it was just kind of weird. And he really didn’t overcome that until he won a championship. I just got a sense that he wasn’t really happy about how it played out.”
James needed to experience a different way of doing things. He needed an organization to tell him “no” sometimes. He needed to learn how to win. Two titles in four years delivered all of that, and Cleveland ultimately benefited from it, too. It may not have felt like it at the time, but Miami and Cleveland both won on July 8, 2010. Cleveland lost everything it had that night in order to win so much more six years later. We just didn’t know it at the time. LeBron was right. Everybody won because of it.

Storyline: Chicago Bubble
The NBA is closing in on signing off on a second “bubble” in Chicago for the eight teams that were not invited to play in Florida, enabling them to participate in a mini-training camp and subsequent games against other clubs with a target date of September, sources told ESPN on Thursday. The details are still being hammered out, and teams continue to push for an alternative plan that would enable them to hold mini-camps within their local markets and to explore the idea of establishing regional sites where teams could scrimmage against each other.
Storyline: Chicago Bubble
There was also the game in Toronto around New Year’s when Love pounded the bench and momentarily pulled himself from the game. According to sources close to Love, that was a breaking point, letting his trade desire be known to those around him. That moment also led to Love being fined and lashing out at Beilein and the organization for the improper way the fine was delivered.
Since the season ended, the Cavs have considered a number of possibilities. With limited salary cap space — and a desire to avoid the tax — they couldn’t claim Theo Pinson or Allonzo Trier. While they revisited a deal with Trier after he cleared waivers, the former Knicks guard was looking for more money and a different contract structure than the Cavs were willing to give. Members of the front office also questioned his fit alongside young guards Darius Garland, Kevin Porter Jr. and Collin Sexton.
Storyline: Allonzo Trier Free Agency
The league spent $3.75 billion on player salaries this year, and a replacement-level player would command the veteran’s minimum of $1,618,520. Work backward and overall, a player who was 1 point per 100 possessions above replacement level (say, Landry Shamet or Langston Galloway) was worth $3,183 more than the minimum for every minute he played. Such a player playing 1,000 minutes over the course of the season was worth just less than $5 million. The most valuable player based on this was (duh) Giannis Antetokounmpo, whose production this year was worth $63.75 million in my methodology. I didn’t use negative values for players — the vast majority of the most terrible players are rookies or developmental players who are holding down roster spots for future purposes. For the curious, the two least valuable by this metric were both 20-year-old guards — Cleveland’s Darius Garland and Portland’s Anfernee Simons.
But as Wade and Bosh began lining up details, James stopped returning calls — even from Wade. The news of a TV show to announce James’ decision caught Wade and Bosh somewhat by surprise and stirred last-minute anxiety. “Everyone was excited, but LeBron had gone dark. And that made us all worry a little bit,” said David Fizdale, who was an assistant coach with the Heat at the time. “Even Dwyane wasn’t totally sure.”
Storyline: The Decision
The Bulls’ motivation, sources say, was split. After two days of meetings, they thought they were in competitive position with Bosh and Wade. They were not as sure about James, even as some rivals feared that Chicago was in pole position to steal him from Cleveland. Nonetheless, with owner Jerry Reinsdorf’s blessing, the Bulls got to work on finding a path to land all three. They tried to move Deng to the LA Clippers, sources say, but were turned down. They talked to Toronto about a sign-and-trade for Bosh — the Raptors began discussing Deng’s fit and possible parameters of a deal, sources say — to leave room to sign Wade and James.
A week earlier, just after 11 a.m. on July 1, the Nets arrived at the IMG building in downtown Cleveland as the first of six teams to meet with James. Out of one side of a Lincoln Town Car emerged Mikhail Prokhorov, the billionaire Russian oligarch who had bought the Nets less than two months prior. Out of the other side emerged Jay-Z. “It was a circus show,” said Avery Johnson, who had been hired to coach the team. “We were very excited. But in all honesty, we weren’t ready as an organization. And we were playing in Newark for the next two years — not New York. But Jay-Z really gave a great pitch. He appealed to their friendship and sold New York.”
Once the Orlando operation is up and running, the league and the NBPA will decide what to do about the eight teams that aren’t taking part (Charlotte, Chicago, New York, Detroit, Atlanta, Minnesota, Cleveland, Golden State). All those players face the prospect of going nearly six months without facing NBA opponents, and sources say there is significant support from most of those teams for the possibility of a secondary campus site where they would train, compete and even play televised games in much the same way they plan to in Orlando.
Darren Rovell: JUST IN: We have a new record for a modern day card. This LeBron card is currently at $960,000, including buyer’s premium, in @GoldinAuctions sale. There are 23 days left. Previous record was Mike Trout card, which sold in @GoldinAuctions sale last month for $922,500.

Ryan Hollins: "Kyrie learned some poor leadership from LeBron"

Ryan Hollins: “LeBron can’t cast a shadow, he [Irving] has a lot of maturing to do as we all have. You gotta think these 23, 24, 25, 26 year old guys casting a big spot so, to be honest I looked at the content and the intentions behind your heart. Who you are versus trying to stunt on somebody because you’re 25 years old and you don’t know any better. But I think the way those two butted heads kind of left a bad imprint on Kyrie. It was bad business. It was some things that LeBron did. You know, Kyrie learned some poor leadership from LeBron and some of the stuff he did and I think Kyrie tried to come into his own in a different way. But very smart, very intelligent you know, really soft-spoken and trying to find out how to be a leader.
Ryan Hollins: “I don’t think Kyrie is a natural leader. You know some guys that are like — you see the 7 or 8 year old in the AAU game where he’s putting all the kids in the right spot, and he’s thinking of everybody…that’s NOT Kyrie. I think that’s something that he’s trying to grow and learn and do, and I think he’s handled a couple of situations wrong. I don’t think he’s lied about anything except about the world is flat when he was jokingly, but I think speaking out in the media; that’s a tightrope of a situation when you talk about your teammates. So I think some of those things he’ll admit that he wants to reel back.”
“Kyrie is a great dude,” Ryan Hollins told me on this week’s episode of the Scoop B Radio Podcast. “Humble, down to earth, cool…if anything like — you know what’s funny, like of all the guys that were in the team, he hung out with Luke Harangody the most. And Like was a Notre Dame guy and some type of ACC connection was there. Like, Kyrie is not big on going with the norm or trying to be cool or popular. He doesn’t mind being outside the box. Cool down to earth. Great dude man.”
The Cavaliers are hosting a new series of virtual forums focusing on issues facing the Black community, and the team’s on-court leader will be taking part. Head coach J.B. Bickerstaff will be one of three featured speakers during Wednesday’s first installment of “Time to Talk,” which will air live at 6:30 on Cavs.com as well as the team’s social media platforms. The first installment will focus on Black men and mental health, and all are invited to join the conversation for free.
With Drummond making his commitment public, the Cavs can proceed with other offseason plans. Sources say Drummond’s decision doesn’t guarantee Tristan Thompson’s departure. Thompson, an unrestricted free agent this summer, will weigh all of his options. But the fallout from COVID-19 — and the anticipated drop in in the salary cap — has caused plenty of uncertainty, especially for free agents.

Andre Drummond opting in

Two-time All-Star Andre Drummond says he plans to pick up his player option that will keep him in Cleveland for another year. Drummond, who was traded to the Cavaliers by the Detroit Pistons in February, has a $28.75 million option for the 2020-21 season. He said on Tuesday’s episode of ESPN’s Le Batard & Friends — STUpodity podcast that he “definitely” will be in Cleveland next season. “Yeah, it’s going to be hard to give up, so you can count on me being in Cleveland still,” Drummond said when pressed on whether he plans to exercise his option. “I definitely will be in Cleveland.”
3 weeks ago via ESPN
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