LeBron James Felt ‘Mixed Emotions’ His First Season In Miami After Leaving Cleveland
Jill Painter Lopez
LeBron James experienced plenty of emotions in his first season with the Miami Heat.
Part of that certainly was from the fallout from “The Decision,” the one-hour ESPN special where he announced on live television that he would leave Cleveland for Miami in free agency. The decision was almost universally criticized.
“I had mixed emotions my whole first year in Miami,” James said on “More Than An Athlete” in 2018. “Just if I made the right decision. Should I stay? Should I (have gone)?“
James’ decision to leave Cleveland was chronicled in the one-hour documentary “Backstory: The Decision” that aired on ESPN on Sunday. James was not interviewed in the documentary and nor were any members of his advisory team. Don Van Natta Jr., the reporter, host and executive producer of the documentary, said they declined interviews. He also said Jim Gray, who interviewed James in the 2010 show, declined to be interviewed.
After James' TV appearance in 2010, he boarded a jet from Connecticut to Miami. He went on to win two NBA championships alongside Dwyane Wade and Chris Bosh in 2012 and 2013.
But James' first season in Miami was bittersweet, as he watched scorned Cavaliers fans burn his jersey.
“I was 25 years old and I wanted to be liked by everybody,“ James said on "More Than An Athlete." “That’s why the emotions were there. ... From the time we landed in Miami, that first night we got there, we went to The W (Miami) and I was like, ‘What the hell just happened?’ ”
Before airing the premiere of “Backstory: The Decision,“ ESPN aired the episode of UNINTERRUPTED’s documentary “More Than An Athlete” in which he discussed the decision. On that show, James’ agent Rich Paul also recalled a conversation he had with James about signing with the Lakers during free agency that July.
James toiled over that decision, too.
“‘Yo bro, you sure this is right move? Let’s go through this exercise,’“ Paul recalled telling James. “If you stay [in Cleveland] and you all lose 10 games in a row, you’re going to be like ‘Damn, maybe I should’ve went to Philly or L.A.’ If you go to Philly and you all lose 10 in a row, it’s going to be like ‘Damn, maybe I should’ve stayed or went to L.A.’ But if you go to L.A. and you lose 10 games, you’ll always be like, '(Expletive), we gotta figure this thing out.‘ As simple as that. That’s how you know it’s the right decision.“
All of James' future decisions were announced differently.
When James decided to go back to Cleveland in 2014, he broke the news in a first-person essay in Sports Illustrated.
And when he decided to sign with the Lakers in 2018, he made the announcement through a press release from his agency, Klutch Sports Group.
“We do things differently,” James said in "More Than An Athlete."