“The Decision,” which went on to be a major smudge on James’ otherwise perfect resume, haunted him for years, essentially until he returned to Cleveland in 2015. All hate for the King seemed to fade when he won his midwest hometown NBA title in 2016. It was monumental– it was the first major pro sports championship for the city since 1964, a drought of 52 years—one of the longest for a city with three major sports of basketball, baseball, and football.
It has now emerged that the entire debacle started with a Pistons fan sendin2g in a mailbag question to then ESPN writer, Bill Simmons.
According to ESPN’s Don Van Natta Jr., the producer of the mini-doc that chronicled LeBron’s Decision, Drew Wagner emailed the following question to Simmons:
“What if LeBron announces he will pick his 2010-11 team live on ABC on a certain date for a show called ‘LeBron’s Choice? What type of crazy ratings would that get?”
Bill Simmons eventually took that idea to his bosses at ESPN before bringing the proposal to LeBron’s team.
Things really started to heat up in June when LeBron’s best friend and business partner, Maverick Carter, started speaking with Jim Gray, who would eventually go on to become the host of the show.
Eventually, all the details were ironed out, and the president of ESPN at the time, John Skipper, gave LeBron an hour of primetime television on July 8 for his decision. In return, the now Laker would donate the proceeds to the National Boys and Girls Clubs of America. The show went on to make LeBron public enemy number one for years to come, and he played up to that “villain” mentality for all his years in Miami.