By taking a shorter rookie-scale contract extension to hit free agency sooner and conspiring with Dwyane Wade and Chris Bosh, LeBron James made it so simply signing with the Heat in 2010 would flip the NBA’s traditional power structure on its head.
Then, LeBron did it in such a cocky way. He announced his Decision on a nationally televised special. He went to an introductory rally and declared Miami would win multiple championships – “not two, not three, not four, not five, not six, not seven.”
Yet, beneath the bravado, LeBron apparently had insecurity.
LeBron’s current Lakers teammate Anthony Davis – who knows something about backlash for leaving his original NBA team – relayed a conversation with LeBron.
Shams Charania of Stadium:
I asked him, I said, “When you went to Miami, first off, how were you when you left Cleveland? Obviously, you left free-willingly. I had to ask for a trade. But what was your emotions?” He was like, “I was scared. I was scared as s—.” And that was the same thing with me, because I’d been so accustomed to being in New Orleans, and I loved that city. I loved the city of New Orleans. I’ve got so many friends there that turned family. Multiple properties there. New Orleans is a part of me. And it was tough for me to walk away from that.
I believe Davis. He repeatedly said his primary goal was winning with the Pelicans. In the end, when he thought those goals diverged, he prioritized winning over New Orleans. That was probably a difficult choice.
LeBron had the added element of playing for his hometown team. Davis developed ties to New Orleans only after entering the NBA. LeBron, an Akron native, had Ohio roots that went far deeper. That probably made it even scarier for LeBron to leave.
But it worked out for LeBron. He won titles and developed as a player with the Heat, returned to the Cavs and won another championship with them. He got it all.
We’ll see whether Davis’ move from the Pelicans works as well.