June 8th, 2010 is a date that has gone down in NBA history. It was the day when the infamous 'The Decision' was broadcasted on ESPN, as LeBron James announced to the world that he was taking his talents to South Beach. The King was widely criticized for the move as he was leaving his hometown team to join a super team, and he had failed to deliver on his promise to bring a championship to the city.
If you think these Kevin Durant sweepstakes are wild, with multiple stars trying to reach out to KD, you can imagine what it was like when LeBron became an unrestricted free agent in 2010. Numerous teams around the league courted James, but he ultimately decided to go to the Miami Heat to form a Big 3 with Dwyane Wade and Chris Bosh.
The Cavaliers and their fans were outraged with his decision, with owner Dan Gilbert releasing a strongly-worded open letter where he criticized LeBron for how the whole situation had panned out. Fans of the team also burned his jerseys as LeBron went from being one of the more likable athletes in America to almost public enemy number one. Many ex-players also criticized James for teaming up with Wade and Bosh instead of trying to win a championship on his own.
While it is fair to say that doing a television special to announce the move might have been a bit too much, it is hard to be critical of James for leaving from an objective perspective. The Cavaliers had done a pretty bad job of surrounding him with the talent required to win a championship, and he'd taken them as far as he could have.
The move to Miami would work out tremendously as well, as he won 2 NBA championships to go with 2 MVPs while averaging 26.9 points, 7.6 rebounds, and 6.7 assists per game. He would lead the Heat to 4 NBA Finals in a row from 2011 to 2014 before making an equally shocking return to Cleveland.
That promise he had made to Cleveland was fulfilled in 2016 when they completed the greatest comeback in NBA history to beat the Golden State Warriors in the Finals after going down 3-1. LeBron's second exit from Cleveland in 2018 was far less acrimonious than the first, with many understanding why he wanted to head to the Lakers, and he had fulfilled his end of the bargain by winning that long-awaited championship after all.
It all worked out well in the end, something that seemed highly unlikely in the immediate aftermath of 'The Decision'. LeBron has also since then spoken about his regret for how the whole thing was handled, and it's not a surprise that no one else has tried to do something similar since then.