LeBron James changed teams as a free agent in 2010 and 2014, and for something dozens of NBA players do ever year, his two moves were treated very differently.
He was vilified for The Decision, leaving Cleveland for Miami in 2010. In 2014, his Sports Illustrated letter went over extremely well.
Now, we have some numbers to support that perception.
LeBron has an E-Score of 80, double his low of 40 in July 2011, according to Darren Rovell of ESPN.
How does E-Score work? Rovell:
The company takes the opinions of 1,100 people, ages 13 and up that reflect a representative sampling of the U.S. population, in a poll and uses that data to give the more than 8,000 celebrities in its database an E-Score ranging from 0 to 100, with 100 being the most known, liked and appealing.
Here’s a history of LeBron’s E-Scores drawn from the chart accompanying Rovell’s article:
LeBron dipped to 47 after The Decision, and he’s on his way back to his pre-Decision high of 87. I think he’ll get there.
LeBron’s popularity is a fascinating topic, and it’s interesting to see how quickly people have turned in his favor since he announced his return to Cleveland.
He’s no longer the villain, and the numbers prove it.
VIZZINI: “So, it is down to you. And it is down to me.”
MAN IN BLACK nods and comes nearer…
MAN IN BLACK: “Perhaps an arrangement can be reached.”
VIZZINI: “There will be no arrangement…”
MAN IN BLACK: “But if there can be no arrangement, then we are at an impasse.”
That farcical scene from The Princess Bride pretty much sums up where we are with the Tristan Thompson holdout with the Cleveland Cavaliers, minus the Iocane powder. (Although that scene was a battle of wits in the movie and this process seems to lack much wit.) The Cavaliers have put a five-year, $80 million offer on the table. Thompson wants a max deal (or at least a more than has been offered), but he also doesn’t want to play for the qualifying offer and didn’t sign it. LeBron James just wants the two sides just to get it done.
Brian Windhorst of ESPN thinks LeBron could be very disappointed.
Windhorst was on the Zach Lowe podcast at Grantland (which you should be listening to anyway) and had this to say about the Thompson holdout:
“I actually believe it will probably go months. This will go well into the regular season.”
Windhorst compared it to a similar situation back in 2007 with Anderson Varejao, which eventually only broke because the then Charlotte Bobcats signed Varejao to an offer sheet. Thompson is a restricted free agent, meaning the Cavaliers can match any offer, but only Portland and Philadelphia have the cap space right now to offer him a max contract. Neither team has shown any interest in doing so.
And so we wait. And we may be waiting a while.
ProBasketballTalk’s Kurt Helin explains why he believes the Sacramento Kings have enough pieces to potentially make a run at the final playoff spot in the West.