Tag: LeBron decision

Cleveland Cavaliers' Zydrunas Ilgauskas rests his head on the shoulder of LeBron James in Cleveland

Cavs broadcaster talks LeBron, Ilgauskas’ move to Miami


Joe Tait was the Cleveland Cavaliers broadcaster for four decades, starting with when the NBA first dropped an expansion team in Cleveland to try and slow the growth of the ABA.

Tait has a new book out about his recollections as a broadcaster, and of course there’s plenty of talk about LeBron James, something highlighted in a story in the Cleveland Plain Dealer (via I am a GM).

But what jumped out at me is the story of Zydrunas Ilgauskas, who was a part of Cleveland and loved the city but moved on last year, only to be disappointed.

“He went to Miami to try and get a championship ring before he retired,” said Joe. “He wasn’t even in uniform for some of those games in The Finals. He wanted to be a contributor, playing 15, 20 minutes a game and helping a team win a title. He loved, absolutely loved Cleveland. But when LeBron left, he knew they couldn’t win here — and the team wanted to rebuild and get younger. So he went to Miami. I’m telling you, the culture shock was hard on him.”

Joe said one of Ilgauskas’ friends visited the veteran center and his wife in Miami.

“I was told they were never happy, and the longer they were there, it got progressively worse,” he said. “Mrs. Z is from Cleveland. That was a zoo down there. I feel bad for him, because I’m sure it’s not anything close to what he expected.”

If you want LeBron James dirt, this is not the place. Tait liked him and was friends with Gloria (LeBron’s mom). He sees James as a product of his environment as much as anything — from the time he entered high school he could do no wrong, then he played in Cleveland where there was unconditional love and support from the fans while he was there. Owner Dan Gilbert coddled him and let him do what he want. So when James did “The Decision” it was the first time people really turned on him.

Tait’s basic thoughts get summed up this way in the story:

“In Cleveland, if he had a bad game or made a mistake — people would just say that was OK, he’ll play better next time,” said Joe. “He could do no wrong. No wrong at all. Everyone loved LeBron. That’s why he was so surprised by the negative reaction to the ESPN show. . . . He thought everyone would like it because everyone always seemed to like about everything he did.”

When Gilbert wrote an email ripping James and calling him a quitter, Joe said the first thing that crossed his mind was, “Dan, you created the monster, now you have to live with it.”

LeBron: “I can understand why a lot of people were upset”

Not shown: hair on LeBron's forehead.

LeBron James understands where you are coming from, you haters.

He’s backtracked from how he handled “The Decision” for some time now, said he wouldn’t want to change the choice but does wish he had gone about it differently. He and those around the announcement thought the show was all for a good cause, not seeing the wider reaction to an hour show talking about where he would play basketball (and ripping the heart out of Cleveland on national television).

He said basically the same thing to the Guardian in London, adding he understands the anger people had now.

Was James taken aback by the ferocious criticism of his screening of “The Decision”? “Um, yeah. I was surprised by it because I was making a decision for myself. I was doing something that I believed was going to make me happy and freshen me up. But looking back I can understand why a lot of people were upset. That definitely wasn’t my intention: to upset people.”

Does he wish he could change what he did in the summer of 2010? “I can’t say I would change anything – because it would change so much that is leading to the future. But, yeah, there is definitely a better way I could have handled it, as far as the whole TV thing is concerned, and the same goes for the build-up to the announcement. A lot of people were hurt by it – and I definitely apologize to them. At the same time, you should never be afraid to do what you believe in.”

This is really a good interview and you should go read the whole thing. Especially if you are a Liverpool fan.

LeBron is becoming much more polished with his interviews. He talked about the lockout but steers clear of stepping in that land mine by being pretty dull. He also talks about losing in the 2011 NBA finals and how that will help him going forward whenever there is a season.

When did he get over the loss? “A couple of days ago,” he says, laughing wryly. “It stayed with me a couple of months. It was definitely heartbreaking. [But] I really believe it’s made me a better player. And I’m a better person as well for it – just in terms of focusing harder, zeroing in even more. It’s made me critique my game and work out who I am as a person. We faced a great team in Dallas and I don’t think enough people gave them the credit they deserve.”

We’ll see how much that loss helped LeBron and the Heat. Actually, I just hope we get to test that hypothesis this season.

LeBron wants Cleveland fans to know he misses them

Dallas Mavericks v Miami Heat - Game Six

I’ll take “things that will not go over well” for $200, Alex…

Cleveland fans will never forgive LeBron James. They see his move to Miami as a betrayal and abandonment, his public announcement of it the ultimate insult.

LeBron isn’t looking for their for forgivenss, but he tweeted (when anwering fans questions) that he misses them.


(Via Eye on Basketball)

Some will say this is just him trying to repair his image, and Clevelanders will not care. But I think this really is sincere. I think he does love Akron and Cleveland and sees what he did as purely a business move. Others may not see it that way, but he does. And Cleveland fans were good to him for many years.

Which is part of the reason they will not be forgiving.

What’s the value of an athlete’s apology? Does it matter for LeBron?

Image (1) lebron_decision-thumb-250x191-15508.jpg for post 6206

People tend to forget (or they don’t want to hear it), but LeBron James did apologize to Cleveland and fans for “how it all went down” with the decision.

Of course, those comments came in May after the Heat had eliminated the Celtics from the playoffs, and were of the sentiment that “sorry, but I had to do this to get by Boston and have a shot at a ring.” As CNBC’s Darren Rovell pointed out on his new sports business show on Versus, what was lacking from the Decision (and the pep rally and other media events that followed) was a sincere apology to Cleveland.

Rovell on his show discussed the value of apologies from athletes. Michael Vick has apologized for his part in the dog fighting rings, but has it helped him? Barry Bonds couldn’t care less what you think of him. Where does LeBron fall on that scale?

There will be some that will never forgive LeBron, but I continue to say that if the Heat win a couple of titles over the next three or four years (and he helps the USA win another gold in London) much of the public sentiment about LeBron will shift. Winning changes everything in America.

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Video: Gordon Hayward makes his “decision” parody

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Now that the skinny white kid from Utah has made his “decision” parody video, can we officially say that the LeBron James “Decision” meme is dead. Please let it be dead.

We already told you how Hayward was going to be a professional Starcraft II player during the lockout. Which doesn’t quite pay as well as the NBA — and the groupies are less impressive — but hey, it’s something.

As part of the promotion of that, he was part of a “Decision” parody that hopefully is the end of that genre. At least we can hope it is. (hat tip to Eye on Basketball)