LeBron James‘ 2014 free agency demanded round-the-clock coverage – and breathless speculation.
LeBron and Wade flew back to Miami together. What did that mean?
LeBron and Wade talked on the runway after landing, and when silent video of that emerged, oh boy, everyone became a body-language expert. What did Wade raising his arms mean? Was Wade trying to talk LeBron into staying with the Heat? How much affection was in that goodbye hug?
By then, LeBron not only knew he was returning to Cleveland, he had already spoken to Lee Jenkins for their famous “I’m Coming Home” essay in Sports Illustrated. LeBron just hadn’t yet told Wade, which was hardly insulting. LeBron’s agent, Rich Paul, hadn’t even told the Cavaliers yet. But that created a stunning scene.
“Return of the King” by Brian Windhorst and Dave McMenamin:
After watching the afternoon sessions of his camp, James went to McCarran International Airport and boarded a Nike-owned jet. Its destination was Miami, and Wade joined him on the flight, which had been previously arranged as he got a ride back home. Two days later, on Saturday, he was scheduled to go to Rio de Janeiro for the conclusion of the World Cup as part of a Nike promotion. On the plane were Nike personnel, some of James’s staff, and Wade. As the plane traveled east and night fell, James reviewed and made some changes to Jenkins’s first draft. But Wade was still not told.
“You can’t ask Dwyane to carry that [secret],” Paul said. “He couldn’t. It would’ve put him in a terrible position.”
The situation makes me think of Kevin Durant. Before his free agency began last summer, Durant stated a need to be “selfish” and distance himself from Russell Westbrook during the process. Yet, Westbrook was reportedly vulnerable with Durant during a pitch to keep the star forward with the Thunder. That wasn’t necessarily wrong, but a lack of clear boundaries contributed to their falling out.
On the other hand, LeBron was cold enough to edit that essay with Wade right there. They separated personal and business. I think that has something to do with why they remain so close.