The “decision,” an article published in Sports Illustrated and a press release from Klutch Sports were the avenues Lebron James chose to inform teams he was leaving. The aftermath of these departures had long-term effects on the team organizations.
On July 8, 2010, professional basketball player Lebron James announced on ESPN that he was leaving the Cleveland Cavaliers for the Miami Heat. It was known as the “decision” and it rocked the National Basketball Association to its core. It was rare in old school basketball that star players would leave their original team. There was a sense of loyalty and pressure to play for one organization your entire career. This also sparked the super team movement that we see in Golden State. This movement saw all-star players joining forces on one team. The rest of the league suffers, but two to three teams are elite every season.
Following the “decision,” the Cavaliers went into a downward spiral. They had a bad roster with Lebron, and the team capsized without him. They fired their coach only 20 games into the 2010-11 season. In that season, they only won 19 games, the NBA’s eighth worst season in history. They won the lottery and drafter first overall, but the horror continued. The following season they went 21-45, third worst in the eastern conference. Their next two seasons, they had 24 and 33 wins respectively and won the draft lottery in the 2013-14 season.
Lebron, on the other hand, made four straight NBA finals. He won two finals MVP awards and was given the nickname of The King. He was already a great player and had established himself as a winner. But the league changed again when Lebron went home to the Cavaliers.
Lebron is from Akron, Ohio, a city half an hour from Cleveland. He promised Cleveland fans when he was drafted he would win them a championship. Miami was deserted so Dwayne Wade and Chris Bosh remained to pick up the slack.
The next season, Miami finished 10th in the eastern conference with a 37-45 record. They made four finals in a row and still had two all-stars on the roster. In the years since, they’ve never made it past the second round and have missed the playoffs twice.
Lebron’s winning ways followed him back to Cleveland. He made it to four straight finals and won the championship in 2016. Cleveland has been on the sports map because of Lebron. Their National Football League team, the Browns, haven’t won a playoff game in 20 years and their Major League Baseball team, the Indians, haven’t won a World Series since 1948.
Then this summer happened. Lebron left Cleveland again to head to Hollywood. He signed a three-year deal with the Lakers hoping to add a fourth title to his resume. The Lakers finished 10th in the western conference last season. They have a young team and it would be the first time Lebron won a title without a second all-star on the team. The Lakers are 20-14 with him in the lineup and 4-7 without him. He was out with a groin injury and the team went from fourth place in the west to ninth. They have a tough stretch of games with the fourth seed and 13th seed separated by only three games.
On the other side, the Cleveland Cavaliers are last in the NBA with only nine wins through 44 games. They have exemplified next to nothing without Lebron, on and off the court.