“The Decision” saw LeBron announce his decision to take his talents to the Miami Heat on live television, resulting in Cleveland Cavaliers fans burning his jersey and Cavs owner Dan Gilbert writing an angry letter in Comic Sans. However, contrary to popular belief, the idea wasn't initiated by James, Maverick Carter, Leon Rose, Rich Paul or Jim Gray. It actually came from a source that had no ties to James, his camp or even ESPN, as noted by Chris Fedor of cleveland.com.
It was simply a fan. Drew from Columbus, Ohio made the suggestion to former ESPN employee Bill Simmons for one of his mailbag columns in November 2009. Consequently, Simmons loved the idea. This started the chain reaction, with Simmons contacting multiple network executives, James' camp and essentially any other personality who could pull some strings. Simmons essentially begged them to produce an announcement show called “LeBron’s Decision.” Eventually, this concept reached James, and it was then pitched to John Skipper, ESPN's former head of content.
This is one of the revelations in the new episode of “Backstory,” an ESPN documentary series featuring the investigative reporting of three-time Pulitzer Prize winner Don Van Natta Jr. According to Van Natta, James' legacy and the impact of “The Decision” was the reason why he wanted to dig deeper with all the unanswered questions floating around.
“Backstory: The Decision” premieres Sunday, June 28, at 9 p.m. ET on ESPN. This comes right before the 10-year anniversary of this controversial NBA moment. By taking his talents to South Beach, LeBron broke the hearts of fans and took on the mantle as a villain for years to come, ultimately winning two championships in four years with the Heat.
Of course, LeBron James returned to Cleveland and made everything okay by winning the Cavs' first championship in 2016.