I don't begrudge LeBron his decision, but there are consequences.
Let's start with the backlash he deserves: This show/spectacle was off-putting, on all fronts. It was a horrible way to treat Cleveland fans — and a condescending way to treat all fans.
Now the backlash he doesn't deserve: Choosing to play alongside Dwyane Wade and Chris Bosh, as if the only way he should play is on his own.
I have said this before: LeBron is about nothing if not exceptionalism. And, in this case, "starring on your own" has been done before, plenty of times.
What has never been done — never been done — is a star entering his prime choosing to play with two other stars in their prime. From that perspective, his "decision" is to be celebrated. It is a risk unlike any in NBA history.
Because of those darned consequences: Forget his pariah status in Ohio. More universally, he has created a set of expectations for himself that are more brutal than for any other player in the history of the NBA.
He not only MUST win an NBA title, but I would argue that one isn't enough. Two probably isn't enough. Three merely matches Kobe (who has done it twice). Four or five? Come on. ...
Let's get real: Season-ticket packages are sold on regular-season superstardom. Championships are won by a combination of stars and fantastic supporting casts. Just look at the Lakers the past two years. Or, more instructively, the Lakers in 2004.
"Miami Thrice" (ugh) has the star power — but even with Mike Miller (who I think is a brilliant addition), with league-minimum talent surrounding them, I find it hard to see them winning 16 games in the playoffs.
Next year? Good luck getting past the Lakers. In the two-three years after that? Who will guard Dwight Howard? After that? The reign of Kevin Durant. All of a sudden, it's 2015 and the Heat have won ... hmm: anything?
It wouldn't surprise me if LeBron, Wade and Bosh win zero titles over these next five years — I certainly see that as being more realistic than them winning, say, two or three. A fair question: Would two even be enough?
The punishment to his basketball legacy for not fulfilling the expectations — particularly if he is ringless — will make his enemy-of-the-state status in Ohio seem benign.
Good luck with that, LeBron.
A year later, I'm struck by how little attention "The Decision" show itself got from me. I mean, yes, IDing that it was off-putting, yes, but I was so focused on the on-court implications. In that way, I mis-read the national reaction almost as much as LeBron or the media did.
Having not looked at this particular column in a year, I'm struck by this idea near the end: "The punishment to his basketball legacy for not fulfilling the expectations — particularly if he is ringless — will make his enemy-of-the-state status in Ohio seem benign."
In fact, that is precisely what happened -- with the off-puttingness from The Decision show itself as the foundation.
One year later, The Decision turns out to have been a far bigger blunder in hindsight than it was the morning of July 9, 2010.