LeBron James is, no doubt, the most famous athlete in basketball and he may be the most famous in all of professional sports. Over the course of his career, his game, dominance, and electric personality have often put him in the center of the spotlight.
Unfortunately, it hasn’t all been love for James. In 2010, he famously announced his decision to leave the Cavaliers to join Dwyane Wade and Chris Bosh in Miami. It was a move that was highly scrutinized, not just because of what he did, but also because of how he did it.
But did you know that it wasn’t even his idea? In an article by Chris Fedor of cleveland.com, it started with what one fan sent in a “mailbag” column to Bill Simmons.
The idea came from a stunning source that had no ties to James, his camp or ESPN.
It was a basketball fan — Drew from Columbus, Ohio, who made the suggestion to former ESPN employee Bill Simmons for one of his mailbag columns in November, 2009. Simmons loved it. He pestered network executives for months with a handful of e-mails and also mentioned the idea to William “World Wide Wes” Wesley, Carter and Rose during the 2010 NBA All-Star Game in Dallas. Simmons urged them to produce an announcement show called “LeBron’s Decision.”
The idea gained momentum during Game 2 of the 2010 NBA Finals in Los Angeles when Gray apparently told Carter that James should announce his decision live on network television. Carter sold James on the concept and entertainment and media agent Ari Emanuel pitched it to former ESPN president John Skipper, who was ESPN’s head of content at that time.
Apparently, Simmons like the fan idea so much, he pretty much convinced LeBron and his reps to do it that way. By the way it seems, it wasn’t LeBron’s original intent to make a show of his decision.
Today, while that moment is still remembered as one of his lowest, it no doubt drew a lot of eyes to ESPN that day — and it’s fair to say they got the better end of the deal.
But the fact that something so big (and so controversial) started off as a fan idea really goes to show how much of an impact any ordinary person can have. As for Bron, he’s probably just wishing he could take that whole thing back.