Some Thoughts On The Three Amigos

First off, I want to state that while I am a sports fan, I am not a sports fanatic. I've been out of the country the past week and have not been reading the sports blogs and watching ESPN non stop. If others have written what I am about to write, I did not see it

I did read Dan Gilbert's letter to the Cleveland fans though.

That letter read like a man in denial about what is going on.

My view is we are witnessing yet another power grab by the real talent away from the former owners of that talent, in this case the league and its owners.

What Lebron, Dwyane, and Chris have done is decide they want to play together, play for someone they respect, and attempt to create a new basketball dynasty to rival the Celtics and Lakers who coincidentally recently played for the NBA championship.

Critics of Lebron and his amigos call the move selfish and disloyal.

I call it ballsy and impressive. The league and the owners may control the brands, the teams, the stadiums, and the TV deals. But the players and coaches are the raw talent that makes it all happen.

If Lebron, Dwyane, Chris and Pat Riley are successful in assembling a dynasty that will sit at the top of the NBA for the next decade, they could well inspire others to do the same.

What will Kevin Durant, Carmelo Anthony, Dwight Howard and others do when they become free agents? Sign with the highest bidder or conspire to create a new championship caliber team?

I can't help but see this move in the context of the slow but steady crumbling of institutions that held power by their control of the distribution system. But now when the most talented players have brands that are as big or bigger than the teams they play on, when more and more young people are rooting for their fantasy team and assembling it on their xbox, this move makes total sense to me.

My only question is whether this is an isolated incident or the start of a trend that could pose a serious problem for all sporting leagues.


Comments (Archived):

  1. William Mougayar

    Definitely a trend in my opinion, and even more- a tipping point for things to come, as you hinted. I’d like to see more of these moves that pull the rug from under the owners feet. Lebron’s taking 30 mil less in Miami is another good sign that playing and winning games is what players want to do. Too bad Vince Carter didn’t think of such a move 10 years ago.

    1. JLM

      I suspect that Lebron will make MORE in Miami as his potential for endorsement revenue based upon his “Q” and popularity and the strength of his brand just went through the roof — like it or not.He has just switched the balance between a couple of revenue accounts. Not much more.Just changing jerseys has probably closed the entire gap.

      1. William Mougayar

        I agree but that proves the point that the salary itself isn’t the only factor. Owners see salary, but players see a lot more around it.

        1. JLM

          While professional athletes are notoriously poor managers of their millions, it would be fair to say that once anyone has achieved even seemingly financial independence the nature of the currency changes a good deal.Ego nourishment and self esteem enrichment are powerful currencies — addictive opiates more accurately?And, then, there are truly some folks who simply want to compete at the highest possible levels. Who want to be the elite in any industry.While the Army was struggling to meet its recruiting goals, the Marines were having no trouble. The Army was trying to lure people to become air traffic controllers while the Marines were saying — you’re probably not good enough but we might take a chance on you.There is a huge psychology at play here. And Lebron played the entire sports loving world perfectly. Hell, he even got corporations to “sponsor” his own announcement.This was a masterful performance.

          1. William Mougayar

            We’re seeing athletes becoming much better at managing the burgeoning of their financial empires, almost the same way as big brands and funds are managed.

          2. JLM

            Brilliant and truly insightful comment.The players have truly become their own brands and the possibilities are truly limitless.What happens when a player contracts with Nike to produce their own shoe line rather than Nike contracting with the players to brand a Nike shoe line?When one watched LBJ being interviewed by Larry King (who looks like a deaths head caricature these days), it was impossible to believe this guy is only 25. He was as poised and rational as Jack Welch.

  2. Alex Osborne

    What about the spectacle he made of the entire situation? ‘The Decision’? A bit much don’t you think?

    1. fredwilson

      you could look at it as brand buildingi did not see the announcement live thoughit may have been over the top but i can’t speak to that

      1. Joel Runyon | [BIT]

        publicly embarassing your home city that’s loved you endlessly for the past 7 years doesn’t necessarily count as “brand buildling”I’m not even from Cleveland, but I feel bad they had to go through that.

        1. Elbert Clayton

          Joel, Don’t Forget He Has Been In That Area His Entire Life (not just 7 years, the whole 25). Just Cause He Is A Athlete Attached To A Contract As Well As A City I’m Sure He Loved, Doesn’t Make Him A Bad Guy When He Decides He Wants To Change It Up By Heading South…..It’s His Right.

          1. Joel Runyon | [BIT]

            Elbert, I have no problem with the fact he wants to move on…just the way he did it. No need to make a 1 hour spectacle of it….just my opinion though =)

      2. scott crawford

        Consider the role of Creative Artists Agency behind this. Then watch the intro in Miami again. It is what it is, it ain’t what is was.

        1. fredwilson

          i did not see the ESPN specialand i am sure there was an agent or two involvedthat’s how it is in sports

    2. Guest

      A bit much, I agree… Some say he didn’t want to do it, but ESPN twisted his arms with the whole “do it for the kids” angle…But, you know, this is not that important. The institutional powers Fred talks about (such as Gilbert) often overplay the “arrogant” angle with respect to talent, to get some edge. LeBron IS the best player in the world, I would be 100x more arrogant if I had his skill.

      1. fredwilson

        what about Kobe? he has five rings. LeBron has none. Kobe is King. Lebron isthe prince who wants to be king.

        1. Guest

          Look, from pure basketball skill point of view, I think LBJ is the better player now. That Cavs team had really, really no talent, while Kobe does have great talent around him.However, that’s more of a technical observation. Your larger point about Kobe being the King with the Rings is valid, IMO. LBJ is yet to deliver, and the big question in my mind is not the skill, but the manic intensity that Kobe has. LeBron still has not shown that level of obsession, in my view, and I think he won’t be a champion without it.

  3. Volnado

    Yes. It is a great power shift like whats happening in independent music. Now imagine when lebron owns his distribution network and doesnt have to go through espn to broadcast his message.

      1. Volnado

        lebron owns twitter? i thought you did 🙂 he should be posting (more than just 140 chars) to and then just having that sent to his twitter via api so he can own the content and relationships with his fans and be using twitter as one of his outlets. its my strategy for musicians and watching whole lebron thing made me think of how much traffic he could have driven to his own properties if he said members of that site would get the news first

        1. fredwilson

          yes, exactlythat’s what i do and that is what he should do

          1. Volnado

            he will when we make it easy for his team to launch it AND most importantly make money directly from the fans who want him and d wade to broadcast their backyard games of Horse

          2. jarid

            Why is the @kingjames account following no one? Shouldn’t it be following @dwadeofficial and @chrisbosh? 🙂

          3. fredwilson

            yeah, lebron should follow some people

  4. Guest

    Amen, Fred! Exactly!(you’ll notice from the photo my absolutely clean stuff of Yao. So watch for my upcoming 2-hr special “Krassen’s choice on ESPN :)))

  5. Joel Runyon | [BIT]

    Dan Gilbert’s article aside, I think the biggest disappointment was with the implications this means for Lebron’s legacy. He will not be known as the man anymore. He can’t be compared to Jordan. Jordan would have never wanted to “team up” in order to win. Lebron couldn’t win on his own so he needed a closer who’s done it before (like Wade) to help him out. That’s the tragedy. Great write-up on this all here –…The REAL winner here is D-Wade. He convinced two other all stars to take less money & come play on HIS team.I agree, players are starting to have more control on their end of things and it may pay off for Lebron in the short term (he wins 1-2 championships) but I don’t think that it was a smart move for Lebron’s legacy as it will pretty darn difficult for him to be known as “the guy” in the way that Jordan was or (as much as I hate to say it) Kobe is in LA.

    1. CJ

      Who can be compared to Jordan though? The only players who come close are retired. Don’t put that pressure or legacy on Lebron or Kobe, both are great players but neither are Jordan for one simple reason: MJ wasn’t referred to as the next Magic, the next Bird, the next Wilt, the next Gervin, the next Dr. J…he was referred to as MJ, potentially the best player to play the game. When either of these guys can stand in that light, without a MJ comparison, then maybe you can start to compare them to Michael.If you want to be the best ever you have to become the measuring stick that others are compared to, not the player being compared to the measuring stick.

      1. Joel Runyon | [BIT]

        Agreed. I think the point was, Magic, Bird, Kobe, Jordan, Gervin, Wilt all wouldn’t have done what LBJ did so he lost his chance to even be compared with them, much less surpass them.

        1. JLM

          No judgement one way or another but before this is all done, more than half of the guys you mention will not be able to hold LBJ’s jock. This guy is just 25 years old and already he has demonstrated a masterful control of the game — and I don’t mean basketball.

    2. JLM

      The Chicago Bulls provided Michael Jordan with two key ingredients — Phil Jackson and Scottie Pippen.Look at Phil Jackson’s record before and after MJ.Even Batman needs Robin.

      1. Joel Runyon | [BIT]

        Exactly. D Wade has two key ingredients now. it’s HIS team.They’ll win, but Lebron will be Pippen/Robin/(insert third analogy here)

        1. fredwilson

          I am not buying that line of argument just yet. Let’s see who takes the last shot when the game is on the line

          1. Joel Runyon | [BIT]

            fair enough =)

  6. tk

    Ahh sports need to die.

    1. tk

      Seriously, I don’t mean this in a small way. If people put the attention and resources they give to sports to use to solve third world poverty, we would be living in so much of a better world right now. You want to talk about selfish? Look at yourself when you’re slamming beers over a “Cavs” game, when infants are dying of malnutrition. It pains me the most to see absolutely brilliant people like those who write and read this blog vomiting their life away with sports for their own amusement.

      1. fredwilson

        Even the most committed people to solving the world’s problems take solace in sport. Just look at mandela and his use of rugby to bring his country together

  7. Paul M.

    The NBA is merely reaping that which it sowed. They have sold their product on the basis of “stars” instead of teams or the game (contrast that to the NFL) and are now shocked that the stars are bigger than the game. The current collective bargaining agreement represents a reasonable balance between the talent and the distributors, which means at some point soon the distributors will attempt to re-assert the control they once had.As loathsome as LeBron and his enablers at ESPN make his narcissism to watch, it is an entirely logical outcome of the system constructed by the league and for the league. They deserve each other.

    1. Guest

      Paul,do you know why the NBA is based on “stars”? Because that’s what customer wants. The league was in dire straits before Bird, Magic and MJ emerged and saved the business. The talent is the product. Whatever money, power, attention these guys get, they earn it.Here’s Arn Tellem making the argument much better than me:http://www.huffingtonpost.c

  8. kirklove

    Not sure you’ll see this magnitude repeat any time soon. Perhaps it will be somewhat of a trend, but this was a bit of a free-agent/cap room perfect storm IMO that will be difficult to replicate. And there are few if any that have the leverage of LeBron. While D-Wade and Bosh are nice players, LeBron was the muscle in this move. The only other player with that weight is Kobe.The decision special was a joke. Some of it was LeBron’s camps fault, but I’d wager most was ESPN’s doing as there is little to no news to fill the 24 hr cycle during the barren July sporting month in the US. As for Dan Gilbert, he’s an ass. A desperate ass at this point, too. Shit, all sports management cut players or trade them the second they can’t deliver (football being the worst) and you don’t hear all this clamor about being disloyal. It’s a business. Gilbert is just posturing since he knows his product just went to shit.As for the three amigos winning… well, we’ll see. History (sports and the like) is riddled with super talented “mega-groups” that fail to deliver. It’s not always as simple as lumping talented folks together. I’d bet there are ton of start up ideas that look great on paper, but never make a dime. I wouldn’t coronate them just yet.

    1. fredwilson

      i am not coronating them yet, but i would bet you they will win a championship together. Dwayne and LeBron have already made some sacrifices to make this happen. that’s a good sign.

      1. JLM

        You have teamed up three “first scoring option slashers” in a game where only about a third to a half of the points in any given game are scored by the “slashers”, so the resutls are not a two hand dunk shot just yet. Though Bosh is clearly a better rebounder.MJ had Scottie and their games were complementary not supplementary. LBJ, DWade and Bosh seem a bit more supplementary. Like getting three gallons of ice cream.The real question is can this much “slasher” talent modify their games to reflect the reality that three “first scoring option” guys are now going to have to spread the wealth a bit to become more effective collectively.They need a great point guard to dish the rock and get them out of the decision making process. Riley is smart enough to know this having been a point guard himself.

        1. fredwilson

          It will be fun and interesting to watch

          1. JLM

            The NBA should pay LBJ for the heightened drama. He is the only means in which the NBA has ever been interesting in the offseason. The jersey sales alone are massive.

        2. Dan Lewis

          Wow, you are underselling James incredibly here. The big “knock” on him early is that he’d not take the big shot he was “destined” to take, but rather look for others. I mean, he’s 7th among active players in assists per game over his career — while leading in points per game and putting up 7 boards/game.Basically, he’s more of a Bird than an Iverson, by a lot.You should read… — I think one title over five years would be shock, in the “too few” sense.(That said, I think Rose+Noah+Boozer+James would have been better than the Miami trio.)

          1. JLM

            I can agree w/ everything you say except that Bird held the ball a lot less to be Bird and James holds the ball a lot longer to make that same assist thus he sucks a bit more oxygen out of the offense.I agree completely with your Rose + Noah + Boozer + James assessment. Talent is best showcased when there is a great point guard in the mix. Steve Nash is the man.

          2. Dan Lewis

            Well, James never played with McHale/Parish (yet?).I’m a New Yorker, so I would have liked to have James here. I kind ofhoped he’d stay in Cleveland, though. But if he weren’t going to doeither, as a fan, I wanted him in Chicago. I think that foursome(with non-minimums as complements) would have been a beautifulbasketball machine.

          3. kirklove

            Agree, Dan. I think Chicago would have a been a better fit. I wonder if he LeBron was reluctant to go there because of the MJ legacy? Who knows.I think LeBron is a great all-around player (forget the BS highlight dunk reel that ESPN loves showing). The dude can pass and facilitate. People overlook that.I think Miami will be good. Maybe even 60 wins good. But, the playoffs are an entirely different beast. And let’s not forget injuries happen ALL the time in the NBA. I think these guys might win a championship, but I definitely don’t think they’ll be a dynasty.

          4. Dan Lewis

            I personally think that LeBron went to Miami (over Chicago, forexample) because he didn’t want the BS associated with being “theman.” Cleveland collapsed in the playoffs, and he had a terrible game5 versus Boston in a generally bad series. But really, that wholeteam sucked it up. Take game six. LeBron couldn’t seem to shoot,going 8-for-21, but had 10 assists and 19 rebounds (!). The teamother than LeBron put up a .392 FG% including a 3-for-13 outside thearc. That’s horrible — but the meme? James choked.He’s never been the focal point of failure and probably didn’t likeit. Going to Miami prevents that, because I guarantee that if he goes8-for-21, 19 boards, 10 assists, and the Heat lose, people are goingto also ask why Bosh and Wade put up .392 FG %s too.

          5. Mike O'Horo

            Please. Y’all are overlooking the fact that D-Wade has a ring, and was MVP on a championship team that featured an aging Shaq and bunch of role players. You watched these guys on the Olympic team; did they have any trouble playing together and sharing the ball? They’ll be great.

  9. DonRyan

    I don’t think the move was either disloyal or selfish (that he wants to play with his buddies). I think for him to take an hour of live TV to give the middle finger to Cleveland/Northeast Ohio is unforgivable. A press release and a local news conference would have sufficed. The spectacle is what I have a problem with. He has essentially taken seven years of good will and flushed it down the drain. He will never be compared with MJ or even Kobe again. They are both killers. They want the last shot. He wants to have a good time. No problem with that but the MJ discussion needs to go the way do the dodo. As for his hometown, he’s finished. The visceral betrayal felt here (I’m about 90 minutes southwest of Cleveland) is beyond belief.Go have fun in South Beach. Be D-Wade’s Robin. Good Riddance.

    1. Tom Bakalis

      Couldn’t agree more. LeBron can go play wherever he chooses. Its his right. But show some dignity and class. You don’t need the ESPN spectacle, and at the very least, let the Cavs know up front about your decision. Its no surprise LeBron went to work for someone who faxed in his resignation to the Knicks.

      1. fredwilson

        the Knicks are my team (sadly) and it stung when Riley did thatbut i would rather have followed him to Miami given what has transpired in NY since then

        1. Mahmoud Hashim

          don’t give up on NY just yet…lots of cap space…so if they can draw in a Chris Paul and build around him and Amare…get a deep bench…instead of 3 All Stars and a cast of minimum contract players…they will have a shot…and thats the best case scenario 🙂

        2. rich caccappolo

          great picture in the NYT today… showing Riley standing behind / to the side of the 3 amigos…but you can see he is pulling all the strings. Theses 3 could have gone to a few teams; they chose Riley.

          1. fredwilson

            Wade wouldn’t go to Chicago and Bosh wouldn’t go to Cleveland. Riley had the winning hand

          2. Guest

            I feel Lebron didn’t want to do it alone in Cleveland or Chicago or NY and he had no option other than to move to Miami.

    2. ShanaC

      it’s not hard to have fun in South Beach- Great beaches! Great Art Deco Hotels! Much better than Cleveland.

  10. kidmercury

    the comic sans font……lol that’s what stole the showgilbert’s letter is poor because of how emotional and bitter it is, but if you look closely, he says the anger is not about lebron leaving, but rather the lack of respect shown. i agree. i was having a conversation about this about with a friend, we were talking about how it’d be like if a guy in high school got on the public announcement system and announced that now that he was made captain of the team he was breaking up with his shy girlfriend he’s been with since elementary school for the smoking hot cheerleader. sure, it’s his life and he should do what he thinks is best, but i find it a classless move to do the whole decision thing.lastly, this comment would not be complete without acknowledging how pathetic it is that our society cares more about lebron james than about 9/11 being an inside job. a great example of history repeating; fascists always use pop culture to distract the people from what is actually going on. the roman empire had gladiators, the american empire has king james and lady gaga. in the final analysis, there will be shame and embarrassment for all — save myself and other 9/11 truthers, for whom there will be jokes and smug comments about how we’re better than everyone. damn.

    1. fredwilson

      king james and lady gagathat’s a great line kid

    2. HowieG

      It was funny his Font is what everyone in Advertising/Media/Tech was centering on. I doubt anyone working at an oil refinery or farming even thought about the Font. But this is Gilberts fault. He could of won a title with LeBron but never gave him the right teammates. Even Kobe needed 2 (Odom, Gasol) then 3 superstars (add Artest) around him to win. The Celtics had 3 superstars.Its not done alone.

    3. falicon

      Hey kid, I think you would love Colin Quinn’s new one man show “Long Story Short”…it’s basically about how the American Empire may have reached it’s end much like the Roman empire did:http://thecomicscomic.typep…It’s funny because it’s (possibly) true 😉

      1. kidmercury

        thanks kevin for the link — i think quinn is spot on. i’m glad to see this type of material being woven into our culture, IMHO it will make the humiliation of the fall less embarrassing (though it will still be pretty embarrassing).

  11. Dan Lewis

    “My only question is whether this is an isolated incident or the start of a trend that could pose a serious problem for all sporting leagues. “If you follow sports more closely, especially the NBA, you know that this has been happening for the better part of the last decade, if not longer. The NBA built a ridiculous salary cap framework which literally forces you into this kind of world.James is going to make roughly the same amount on the Heat as he would on any other team, albeit less. The same goes for Bosh and Wade. But this isn’t an A-Rod situation. It’s not as if the Cavs offered James $250MM over 10 years with an our clause after seven while the next best team offered him $100MM over 5. The difference is between, basically, an additional year, which James will likely recoup anyway.In effect, the NBA removed money from the equation. For James, that meant choosing between playing in Cleveland, at home w/no one, or in Miami, with two of his good, superstar, friends. Not a hard choice, honestly. (The TV special… ugh.)But what makes this sad — and what speaks to your quote above — is how this played out for Chris Bosh. The extra money make actually be important for Bosh, whose marketability pales to James’. He wouldn’t play for Cleveland. No way, no how. And there was really nothing Cleveland could offer him to come. A max contract? He was getting that if he wanted it anyway — and Cleveland couldn’t top that. Basically:The NBA told Bosh, James, and everyone else, to go where they’ll be happy. They’ll be paid similarly regardless. They’ll be playing the same game, regardless. It’s inevitable that other factors would become dispositive.

    1. fredwilson

      that’s a great comment Dan. as you said “if you follow sports more closely”i don’t and i appreciate getting a good comment from those who do

      1. Dan Lewis

        Thanks!Sports are great microcosms of societies bc the rulesets aredefinitrive and finite. You can use them to test all sorts oftheories. For example, if you want to look at how a market getsperverted by hyper-strict price controls, look at NCAA basketball.The price of goods (players) is fixed (at basically $0), yet you stillhave claer variations in quality of output (teams); that is, eventhough UNC-Wilmington can offer as much as Duke, the latter is a muchbetter team, year in and out.

        1. JLM

          I was a huge supporter of your brilliantly insightful thoughts until you got to DUKE — f**k Duke.Go, Heels!What is the difference between Duke basketball and lab rats? There are some low life things that even lab rats will not do. LOL

          1. Dan Lewis

            Oh, no worries — I’m a UConn fan.

        2. Mike O'Horo

          UNC-Wilmington can’t offer as much as Duke, UNC-Chapel Hill, Georgetown, or any other top-tier school that isn’t purely a basketball factory. They can offer the same nominal pay ($0), but the total offering includes, in the basketball context, greater levels of competition and TV exposure and, in the life context, a more prestigious brand and more productive referral network for players who are not NBA prospects and who actually pursue an education and earn a degree.

          1. Dan Lewis

            That’s the point, really. It’s the same as the Cavs versus, say, theKnicks. More exposure in NYC, better brand, larger market forendorsements, etc. Same thing goes for LA, where Shaq opted to go tospecifically so he could be in Hollywood.

  12. JoeColleen

    “Critics of Lebron and his amigos call the move selfish and disloyal.I call it ballsy and impressive.”Totally agree. Lebron is a free agent, a lover of basketball, and a businessman. Why not have it all,- money, rings, and a location willing to give him those two things.

  13. johnmccarthy

    This is a continuation of the 40 year trend started when Curt Flood sat out the 1970 season, the starting point for the end of the reserve clause and the beginning of free agency in MLB and the start of the big-money era in all professional sports. Lebron, Wade, Bosh and all other pro athletes owe much to those have gone before them in helping to break the stranglehold owners had on players before the 1970s.I have to include a plug for Gratitude (For Curt Flood) by The Baseball Project,…An easy analogy to see LeBron as a star programmer who has decided that the startup he was with was never going to make it and was able to find an entrepreneur/team that he was confident he could find success with.

    1. fredwilson

      that’s sort of how i see it John

      1. RichardF

        except that a team of individual “stars” doesn’t always make for a successful team. You only have to look at England’s performance in the World Cup to see that.I know nothing about basketball and it maybe that because there are so few players on the court that individual stars play a much bigger part than in most other team sports.

  14. Howard Mann

    Unless you are a fan from or of Cleveland, I don’t think many had a problem with WHAT he did. Most have a problem with HOW he did it.Many other players at the top of their sport have changed teams or resigned with much less fanfare (Shaq, Tom Brady, etc…).If he sat down with Dan Gilbert and explained his thinking. That he had a good run in Cleveland but he felt it was time for a new challenge,etc.. the angst of Cleveland fans would have been the same but the rest of the uproar would have been minimal at most.Business is business and pro sports is certainly big business. So imagine how we would feel if our #1 partner or employee departed the same way.If would not have needed much effort to leave Cleveland with everyone knowing what his thinking was and why he wanted to move on. All before he created a prime time special to do it as a surprise.

    1. fredwilson

      i didn’t see the special and sure wish he would have come to the Knicks insteadbut i really don’t have a problem with how he did ithe’s a big deal. everyone wanted to know what his decision was.

      1. shearic

        Definition of big deal – Jordan’s 2 word announcement in 1995 that he was coming back to basketball: “I’m back”

      2. jarid

        I think if you saw the The Debacle, you would say otherwise. He didn’t even call Gilbert to tell him before he announced it on national TV. Imagine how you would feel if a top employer at one your companies decided to leave, and didn’t tell the CEO until he emailed him from his new job.I agree with Howard. I have no problem with him leaving. It’s how he did it.Also, the fact that he chose the Heat is still surprising. Yes, it’s about winning, but isn’t being the best about beating the best? Jordan, Kobe, etc. would never have done that. They are too competitive. They would’ve taken their teams on their back and said “I can win with what I’ve got.”

        1. Guest

          jarid,LeBron was a free agent, his contract had expired and he was not a Cav employee. He owed nothing to Gilbert. On the other hand Gilbert made tons of money off Lebron. Dan Lewis’s comment above is spot-on: because of the max contract restriction, players like LeBron and Wade were severely underpaid, relative to their market value. In a free market they would be making 3-4 times as much. So really, Gilbert has not much to stand on; he should be thankful for the mullah he made off LBJ and move on. Having said that, his reaction was somewhat endearing, as it was that of a true fan: fans are not rational…

          1. jarid

            Not defending Gilbert. He pulled off the amazing feat of possibly coming off worse than LeBron in this whole thing. Though, Cavs fans clearly don’t feel that way (read the comments in his post).However, I disagree with you. I believe Gilbert was owed the courtesy of a phone call and not a nationally televised F U.

          2. sbmiller5

            3-4 times what they were making would fill up a team’s entire salary cap. Given that the majority of team’s are in the red – there’s no way that can be considered a true market value.

          3. Guest

            oh, but that’s the whole point! Many teams are in the red because they don’t have the kind of players like LeBron who fill-in the seats. Cleveland was sold out pretty much throughout his tenure there, not to mention all the merchandise he moved.If you look from position of Stern and the league, the salary cap and the max contracts make sense, or otherwise some small market teams would have just disappeared and the whole enterprise would have suffered.Having said that, there are some lucky owners like Gilbert was in the past seven years, who get to underpay relative to what they get, because of the system.

        2. William Mougayar

          It’s obvious that LeBron didn’t feel as connected to Cleveland as Kobe/Jordan did to LA/Chicago.This is the result of players being put in teams where they don’t belong to initially, and they sit it out until they can blow the steam off.

        3. fredwilson

          maybe that’s the best thing about being in europe this past weeki missed the Debacle and can still root for king james and his amigosi know that i would have called Gilbert before making the announcement but i also have had worse done to me and our portfolio companies over the yearsit is business after all

          1. Farhan Lalji

            I think that’s the thing, sports is bigger than business. We hold our sports heroes to high standards. We saw MJ get beat up by the Pistons and keep coming back and back, we saw Ewing fight on crumbling knees to get through the Pacers and Bulls. We saw Barkley try to get it done in Philly for sooooo long. We see Nash, Kevin Durant (who announced he was staying with the Thunder over twitter) and Dwight really trying to get it done with teams not unlike Cleveland.I agree with the Orlando owner who said something like he thought Lebron was more of a competitor, this is like I’m not going to start a company and build something I’m going to go join a corporation.

        4. JLM

          Do you think that when LBJ’s contract expired on its own terms, he still had a relationship with the Cavs? He owed the Cavs and more importantly, Gilbert, nothing. Nothing.

          1. jarid

            Courtesy, by definition, is not contractually-obligated.Yes, it is business. But business is about relationships, and LeBron just ruined his with a lot of people.

          2. fredwilson

            Not me. He is young. I learned most everything I know after I was 25

          3. Guest

            I agree with that. I feel Lebron is 25 years old and is behaving like one. Of course he has done a lot of great things up to know both on and off the court. But in this particular episode, I feel his best choice to set himself up to be the Greatest of all time & build a business empire was to go to NY and second best to go to Chicagoo and third to stay in Cleveland. 🙂

          4. fredwilson

            Maybe a phone call before announcing. I imagine you would have done that JLM

          5. JLM

            Sure, courtesy has no downside.A shrewd guy like Gilbert should have engaged Lebron directly and left it on something like — “Hey, when you know what you are going to do, let’s have a quick chat. Good luck with everything.”Relationships are important on how they are formed, how they are maintained and how they are terminated. Courtesy is a big lubricant at all junctions in time.

          6. fredwilson

            Great point that it takes two people to have a relationship and when they fail, both are at fault

        5. sachmo

          Being a basketball player in the NBA isn’t like working at most companies… Players hold press conferences all the time to announce who they are going to play for.I agree that having a TV special was kind of ridiculous.But Lebron’s move to the Heat – totally normal. Players move teams all of the time. He wanted to play with some of his friends in the league, and he wanted to create a Chicago Bulls-esque franchise to do it. I agree with JLM, he owed Cleveland absolutely *nothing*.

        6. LissIsMore

          I agree. He had every right to leave – his contract was up. And every right to choose where he went next. In fact, he chose to play for less money to play for his choice of teams.I think, however, that he showed immaturity and insensitivity by not telling the Cavs directly and privately of his decision. The reason the Gilbert went on such a rant was that he found out what the decision was from ESPN, not LeBron. He was justified in his anger – maybe he didn’t display his best side in his letter, but he was treated poorly.

    2. Gorilla44

      This is why no organization should rely on a single person.

      1. Qbkid32

        If your not going to rely on your superstar, then abolish pro sports all together because nearly every winning team relies on a single superstar to take the team to championship status, Kobe, Jordan, Brady, Manning.. All great examples…

    3. JLM

      Not to put too hard a point on it all, but if one is going to “diss” anybody isn’t CLEVELAND a pretty good choice? LOL

      1. PhilipSugar

        How about any sympathy for a guy that made his money at the center of the whole mortgage crisis with Quicken Loans convincing people to refi and take cash out????If it was up to me he would be in the nastiest prison possible in general population.

        1. JLM

          I actually think one of the oddest results of the entire subprime mortgage debacle is the complete utter lack of any real investigation, accountability and punishment.Wall Street is back on top.Chris Dodd and Barney Frank are undiminished in their legislative power.Fannie and Freddie have now become wards of the state with a private enterprise comp schedule and seeming unlimited access to unlimited capital.Nobody has been truly punished except for the US taxpayer.Hell, the next thing somebody is going to tell me is that they forgot to shut down Gitmo?! LOLPublic executions on the steps of the NYSE for financial wrongdoers or the return of dueling to settle arguments — take your pick.

          1. PhilipSugar

            It just amazes me on the dumbing of America and the lack of shame.If Jackson really wanted to rip Gilbert do a little research and see how many people in the city of Cleveland are in a mortgage fix right now due to Quicken Loans. I understand the people got themselves in the mess themselves, but Gilbert was a crack dealer.Quicken Loans was the boiler-room kings of: I’ll give you $20k and your payment will be less. Don’t worry about the pesky terms!!! Don’t worry that we’re taking $10k in fees we’ll just add it to your principal. Even worse they were famous for calling you back in six months to rinse and repeat. Finally when you’ve gone from being able to pay off your loan in your working career and instead left with negative equity and broken credit they remove the vampire tap into your finances.How does the guy show his face?

      2. jeremystein

        i wish disqus had a dislike button. cleveland is my home.

        1. JLM

          Cheap shot for which I apologize completely and abjectly. Sorry!I have spent some time in Columbus and really dig it there. I have spent some time in Cleveland (after the river caught on fire, mind you) and like it there. I love old brick buildings.Again, sorry for the cheap shot. Please accept my most heartfelt and sincere apology.

  15. Croaky

    Another institution that this exposes as losing it’s value is sports journalism. I believe a model with a great chance to replace it is the Jared Dudley-style sports journalism directly from the mouths of pro athletes.

    1. fredwilson

      twitter is helping to make that happen

  16. Mark Essel

    Don’t watch or read about sports but I dig seeing established power and authority disrupted and challenged at every step.Complacent authority serves as still water for corruption to fester within.

  17. ShanaC

    ??? You all go be guyish. I’ll go find someone to explain why this is such a big deal.*I do understand the monetary negotiation points for the record, just not why this is a big deal. It’s sports, go have fun…

  18. TarekP

    I don’t want to succumb to the classic human trait of creating a polarizing statement for the sake of creating a polarizing statement, but I just can’t believe that this news has landed in your blog…especially not even tying (is that spelled right? Looks off) it back to corporate America, startups or some ‘lesson to be learned in real life’ scenario that you can be so good @.An innovator who loves innovators and their ability to move the world forward, our desperation and territoriality around sports is so exhausting to watch. Seeing a city torn apart by one single player, let alone a team is infuriating.I play sports religiously (mainly soccer) and can be a rabid Liverpool fan, supporting a team who goes about their business the exact same way any team does that wants a championship. It’s when this news becomes larger than news affecting our future in a sustainable human race that I continue to worry where the hell we are destined to end up…In a larger context, I think it may be a bad example of ‘team’ mentality. The dog and pony show that was put on for these 3 seems to minimize all the other individuals belonging to the team, or the profession. DWade was already a Miami Heat player for crying out loud. So why was he put on display with those other 2? To say “now we have 3 players that will win us a championship. The rest of you will just be there to help”If you were a young, aspiring athlete, maybe the message is a bit off. I say ‘a bit’ because aspiring to be your best, so you can be in a position of global desirability is a good thing. It’s the ‘maybe nobody else really matters’ message that throws me off.Now, of course, this is just my personal opinion to the matter…

    1. Guest

      Oh, Liverpool fan! Excellent!Over the past few days I felt that perhaps only Liverpool fans have the moral authority to question LBJ, because their star, Steven Gerrard, is the shining example of the local hero who sticks around, even taking less money. Your point about the “team”, however is not supported by NBA data. Kobe and MJ are perhaps the worst teammates in the history of sports. NBA is about top performers with manic desire to win and supporting cast who knows how to help them. Camaraderie and the self-esteem of the second-tier players has nothing to with success.

    2. fredwilson

      it’s on this blog because i’ve been thinking about it and i like to talk things through with this communityi think this is a good conversation and i appreciate your participation

      1. TarekP

        Noted. I should have began my comment with the second paragraph and just removed the first, which was a bit negative and a product of my personal issues with this news.In its context, I’d still love to hear your insights on how this might transcend other people/places/things…as I believe it does and that you’d provide a commentary people like myself would love to hear…perhaps another day.

  19. Elia Freedman

    I appreciate your post, Fred, and appreciate many of these comments but unless you are from Cleveland (I was born there but moved to Portland, OR in college) and are a sports fan of its teams, there is just no way to understand the emotions of the city right now. (And for those of you critcizing Dan Gilbert, you are absolutely right. It was silly and probably stupid but that letter was not aimed at players; it was aimed at Cleveland fans. And every fan in the city wanted to give Gilbert a ticker-tape parade just for saying it.) Some of this is about LeBron James but most of the reaction is to a lifetime of heartache, of almost wins and our players bringing championships to other teams and teams moved and hopes dashed. It is visceral and emotional and had absolutely nothing to do with LeBron leaving. Well, not totally anyway. It is anything but rational.It is a long history of this. It is Michael Jordan’s shot over Craig Ehlo when the Cavs were the best team in the league, it is Jose Mesa imploding in the ninth inning of the seventh game of the 1997 World Series to an expansion team that bought a championship. It was about Earnest Byner fumbling on the one yard line that would have sent the Browns to the Super Bowl and John Elway driving 98 yards for a touchdown and the win in another playoff game with one minute left on the clock. It was about Bill Belichek cutting Bernie Kosar and Manny Ramirez winning multiple World Series’ in Boston and Cliff Lee and CC Sabathia facing each other in game one of the World Series last year both playing for different teams. It is about Brian Sipe’s interception in the end zone that cost us the Super Bowl appearance in 1980 and about 30 years of futile owners and managers who traded away championship players for over the hill nobodies. It is a little about LeBron James and the fact that our best hope for a championship in a long-time was unable to do it even when the Cavs surrounded him by five former All-Stars. And it was, most of all, about Art Modell ripping out the heart of the city and selling it to Baltimore in the back of an airplane (and then that team winning the Super Bowl shortly thereafter).Rationally you and your commenters are right. The balance of power in the NBA has shifted to the players. There are four major teams in the NBA and the rest are also rans: Boston, LA Lakers, Orlando and Miami. Each team has multiple All-Stars who were brought together in circumvention, you could say, of the intention of the rules of the league. And I don’t think anyone in Cleveland would begrudge LeBron for saying he wants to win championships and he feels his best chance of doing that is in Miami with Wade and Bosh. He happens to be right, in my opinion, given how the NBA works. Even Clevelanders would say we have lost good players before and will in the future, too. Sure, the initial hurt feelings would have been that but that is not what drove fans into the street to burn LeBron jerseys. What drove fans into the street was the way he did it.What did LeBron do? He signed a three year contract and, one year into it, started courting the media and talking about free agency, giving the impression he was just waiting out his time. He didn’t tell the Cavs until he was on the air, giving Cleveland no chance to sign another top notch free agent (whether they could or not), he did it with an in-your-face style that is completely not Cleveland, and he did it in the most narcistic, self-serving way. It was an embarrassment for the city and an affront to the state.And given everything else, given all the close calls and stolen dreams, it was completely unexpected from a Cleveland native son.

    1. fredwilson

      makes you wonder what went on behind closed doors, doesn’t it?maybe it is all lebron, his ego, and his lack of classbut i wonder if he is bitter about something

      1. Elia Freedman

        I tweeted the day after that the most disappointing thing about this whole situation is that I care as much as I do.I went for a bike ride after posting here and was thinking about Cleveland sports and LeBron James and the failures and the hope and the hype. And two other things came to mind that relate to your comment, Fred.First, in the second to last game of the Boston series, the one everyone is pointing at as LeBron giving up on the Cavs, he made a comment to the affect that he can’t be incredible every night and that the fans expect too much. I think that was particularly telling in retrospect. I can’t imagine how hard it would be to have all that expectation I talked about above, all of 50+ years of sports failure in a fading city, heaped on my shoulders and expected to end the futility. Now some of that was the hype from the league and hype from the team, and a great deal of that was placed on LeBron’s shoulders by him and his entourage, but still. That’s an awful big burden.Which leads me to thought #2. It is hard to remember because he is 6’8, 240 with a beard Walt Whitman would be proud of, it is hard to remember because it seems he has been in the NBA for a very long time, but he is 25. His father was never around, the person holding the family together died when he was very young, he moved all over the projects in Akron. He is still surrounded by his closest friends from high school and now has surrounded himself with his closest friends in the NBA. I can honestly say I don’t think he intended to insult Cleveland and the Cavaliers. But I can also say his age really showed.I doubt it is bitterness. Maybe all he really wanted to do was be somewhere else after 25 years in Ohio. (I know I felt that way at age 20 when I left for the second and final time.) But I can also see how the exhaustion of expectations, the exhaustion of being the center of attention, and the desire to play with friends could lead him to Miami.

        1. fredwilson

          Great points.

      2. AlexSF

        Here’s a good behind the scenes story of what went on by a reporter from the Cleveland Plains Dealer who has very good access to LeBron and has done a great, unbiased job of just reporting the facts.…This opinion column really sums up perfectly why the way Lebron orchestrated this whole thing was so low class.…There’s also a very strange, very unlikely rumor making the rounds about why Lebron’s heart wasn’t in Cleveland anymore but I can’t dignify it with a link. Google “Delonte West” if you want to read more.

        1. Elia Freedman

          That West rumor has proven inaccurate.

          1. AlexSF

            Before I posted that link, I actually Googled around to the usual debunking sites but couldn’t find that it was definitely proven false. I guess that’s how much traction that rumor has gotten. Kind of makes you wonder if someone with a vested interest in Lebron leaving Cleveland started the rumor to help nudge him out. I wonder if there’s a conspiracy theorist here that could investigate.Also, I really enjoyed this piece on Lebron which I thought was spot on.…The entire thing is great but the last part (8) touches upon some of the points Fred made in his initial post.”The one thing about LeBron that you have to admire is that he’s ambitious. It’s often misplaced, it manifests itself in unfortunate ways, and he’s not necessarily ambitious the way we want him to be, or for the right reasons. But he’s ambitious nonetheless.Firing his agent, starting a marketing company comprised of some of his closest childhood friends, networking with Wade and Bosh to engineer this deal in Miami… It’s all the work of someone who wants to redefine the parameters for the modern day athlete. Or at least, redefine them for himself and his friends. The LeBron Brand may be on life support right now, but at least it was his idea in the first place.All of which brings me to something True Hoop’s Henry Abbot said yesterday. Just one simple sentence in a meaningless little tweet:”How you feel about LeBron James today is a test of how you feel about fully-empowered athletes.”That struck a chord with me. Not because I agree, but because it gets at what may resonate from all this when the dust settles and the Miami Heat have either won the next four championships, or completely self-destructed. In theory, I’m fully supportive of empowered athletes, but this whole Miami thing could prove to be something of a referendum on the model that LeBron’s tried so desperately to establish.LeBron’s hero is Jay-Z, not Michael Jordan. For ‘Bron, being the most successful is only half the battle in living up to the legacy there. He needs to be a one-man empire, just like his hero.Jordan became a one-man empire by working within the system. Jay became a one-man empire by transcending the system. Which one of those does it seem like LeBron’s been trying to emulate over the course of his career?The problem is that LeBron’s not Jay-Z.Doesn’t have his charm, doesn’t have his wit, and most importantly, he’s never achieved any meaningful success in his field. Jay-Z had gone multi-plantium and made millions of dollars before he even released his clothing line, let alone turned the system on its head. In Hip-Hop, platinum records and millions of dollars equate to credibility, so it gave Jay the leeway to operate with impunity and take chances. By the time he became the first artist to run a record label, Jay-Z was beyond reproach.But LeBron’s yet to realize that basketball isn’t Hip-Hop. Millions of dollars and MVP awards and fame doesn’t give him credibility. That only comes with championships. And when he says that’s why he’s going to Miami, it’s either a lie, or an example of his naivete. Chicago gave him the best shot at championships.With the move to Miami, LeBron’s chasing titles, but he’s doing it his way. By trying to build a team of icons that’ll make everyone say, “Wow, those guys brokered their own future, and took over the league.” Again, the ambition is impressive.But it’s not going to work. LeBron’s not Jay-Z. He’s Stringer Bell from The Wire.”

          2. fredwilson

            Great comment and observations. If LBJ was an entrepreneur, I’d back him. He’s got balls and talent. He is young and I think he is coachable. Its that last part that is always the hardest to evaluate

          3. Farhan Lalji

            Still think Lebron wants to work for someone and be an employee rather than build something. Jigga built an empire, you think Roc you think Jay-Z, you think Miami you think Dwayne Wade.

          4. Guest

            Where do you think Lebron should have signed to maximize his value over the life time of his career?

          5. Elbert Clayton

            Clearly this is a easy one…….Chicago…..The city loved MJ, and that same love would have been shown to LBJ…..It would have been seen as the second coming after 14 years of losing….We love our sports teams…..The Cubs ( have too with that kind of streak) . The advertisers would have had a field day with comparing Jordan and Lebron in commercial spots worldwide as well as the rivalry between LA and Boston having to meet against Chicago in the middle with King James 2.0 leading the way. Plus some insider start up info I know about, yeah it would have socialized his web presence. Plus, don’t forget the support from the players around him in the starting line up. He could have been the force to do it on his own like the greats (Bird, MJ, etc). But maybe, just maybe King James doesn’t want to play ball forever……Maybe he wants to get a few rings by 31. Then maybe he wants to become his own venture back start-up……..Hummmmmm…..Just Maybe Team Lebron (LRMR) has bigger plans. Just Maybe………

          6. JLM

            The Jay Z analogy is very insightful. Jay Z is a shrewd person who has made the transition from artist to businessman. Shrewd.

          7. kirklove

            Jay Z is not a businessman he’s a business, man! ; )

          8. Elbert Clayton

            I Second That Jay Z Quote with ” Put Me Anywhere On God’s Green Earth, I’ll Triple My Worth”…..Not Dan Gilbert’s Worth…..LOL.

          9. fredwilson

            We love jayz in our family

          10. fredwilson

            I hope lebron can do the same

          11. Elia Freedman

            I can’t find it now either but when that rumor surfaced I went to investigate and definitely found it debunked by a credible source.

        2. fredwilson

          I think that plains dealer story is basically correct in all major respects

    2. HudsonJoe

      Elia,I would like to debate you on several points.1.) Given that Cleveland had been unable to negotiate a contract extension with with LBJ they should have been scouring this years free agents. It would have simply been good business to negotiate on several fronts.2.) It was clear from the outset that LeBron was running an auction and in an auction you all learn at once. 3.) 1 July 2010 LeBron was no longer a Cleveland employee he owed them nothing.4.) How can you blame LeBron for the media’s coverage? They are as much to blame for the circus atmosphere as anyone.5.) The Decision sold on ESPN and made The Boys and Girls Club a lot of money.6.) The biggest issue I have with your post is your sympathy for the fans. I call for these fans that are angry and feel rejected, insulted etc to look at themselves in the mirror and ask this question, “What does is say about me that I am so personally invested in an organization that is designed to take money out of their pocket at every turn.” I say they have no self-worth and no worth to the community at large.Joe

      1. Elia Freedman

        With all due respect, Joe, are you a sports fan? I’m not trying to be insulting at all but many of your comments don’t seem to jibe with the way free agency and fans work and think.Generally in free agency there is one major player available and then there are others. That major free agent shapes the market and once that domino falls, the other pieces start to fall in line. In the NBA this is even more pronounced because the sport is so much less a team sport than others. One top 5 player means the difference of making the playoffs and making the finals. James was that piece this year and everyone sat still waiting for him to sign. (Except the Knicks, who had enough money to sign two marquee names and didn’t have to wait.)And then you get into salary cap issues. Technically you are right. James could sign anywhere. But as I understand it, and it is a very complicated issue, because Cleveland had his Bird rights (a cap space term that gives the home team advantages over other teams when signing their own free agents), James still counted against Cleveland in terms of the salary cap until he signed somewhere else. In other words, Cleveland’s hands were pretty tied until James made his announcement, which happened 9 days into free agency.It’s not like Cleveland was going to sign any other big names. James is the first player in decades that took less money to sign elsewhere (until the two teams worked out a sign and trade deal after the announcement).That marquee name chip is a big one, anyway. Watch now. A lot of former very good to great players will not sign for minimum contracts with Miami just to get their best shot at winning a championship. This has the effect, by the way, of making the rich richer.James, however, was not running an auction. If that was the case, as it is with almost all marquee basketball players, he would have ended up in Cleveland because Cleveland could pay him more money with more years. (I am defining auction as the player goes to the highest bidder.)As for the media coverage, James started this TWO YEARS AGO, while under contract with Cleveland, bringing up free agency and how much he’d love to play with Bosh and Wade, his two friends. He kept this up through the entire 2008-9 season and it wasn’t until half way through the 2009-2010 season that he finally cut off the conversation. The media was horrible about it, too, especially NY media, but jeez. LeBron should have stood up and said, I’ll talk about that when I am a free agency.As for #6, you are absolutely right rationally. And that brings me full circle and why I assumed you weren’t a fan. Most fans love the name on the back as much as they love the name on the front. Fan is short for fanatic, after all. There is nothing rational about love for a sports team. All I am trying to do is share why the fans in Cleveland are feeling the way they are and why they reacted the way they did and why Gilbert wrote the letter he did. And it was all about emotion and had nothing to do with rational.(For the record, I am a fan of the Cleveland sports teams, Indians, Browns and Cavs in that order. But I am more interested in the business of sports than I am in the play in and of itself. I obviously want my teams to do well but I have learned over the years to separate myself from those visceral reactions. I was sorry, on one hand, to see LeBron leave. A talent like that doesn’t come along very often. On the other hand, Cleveland is a Browns town with the Indians and Cavs fighting over what is left. Since I prefer baseball to basketball, James leaving town will likely leave more money for the Indians, if they can get their young talent moving in a positive direction, which I think they will over the next couple of seasons.)

  20. HowieG

    Very well said Fred. I agree with you 100%. What you did not discuss is the manner in which this occurred. I don’t think it was done in a classy way on the part of LeBron. He was like a little sissy who needs to be in the spotlight. He didn’t thank Cleveland for the time spent there. He made it a 3 ring circus.So if I am the Heat I know I don’t have a King I have a Princess and while you can say he took less money, he actually did not lose much. And while you can say he isn’t arrogant like a Kobe to do it ‘on his own’ I can get that. But LeBron really had no one disliking him before the ‘event’ on ESPN. Now he has half the country disliking him, and the other half think less of him (aside from Miami).As for your premise I have been railing against the unfairness in sports. But each sport is different. If LeBron, Wade, or Bosh have a career ending injury they count against the Heat salary cap for years to come and get fully paid (see Larry Johnson and Alan Houston). So not sure if everything has been in favor of owners. Football is much different.But definitely an interesting take. And while I can be a bitter Knick fan (I am not), why would anyone play for the Dolan’s? I mean there is rumors Isiah is coming back. LOL I will be a Net fan so fast of that happens.

  21. graubart

    As others have pointed out, most people had little problem with his decision – but had problems with his process.As more info has trickled out, it’s apparent that he, DWade & Bosh have been planning this since the China Olympics. Good for them – I’m fine with that as well. It’s no different than 3 talented software engineers deciding to leave their employers and do a startup.What I think bothered many (certainly it did me) was all of the gamesmanship that went along with the process. As an example, LeBron’s handlers leaked info that he had asked Cleveland mgmt to try to do a sign & trade with Toronto for Bosh, all the while knowing that Bosh had no interest in going to Cleveland. It appears this was simply done so that he could say to the Cleveland fans – “see, I tried, but I can’t get the surrounding parts here”.Much of the activity seemed to be designed to build up drama around the ESPN “decision” program. Why else would they choose to hold the event in the Greenwich Boys & Girls Club? There were many spots it could have been held – but they chose one in the shadows of MSG.The show and the events leading up to it all seemed designed to to satisfy a very large ego. And, let’s face it – being one of the best in the world at what you do at age 25 will create a large ego in most people. Yet one of the best tweets I saw following “the decision” (I think it was from @moorehn said “There’s no TEAM in Miami, but there’s an “I” a “Me” and a “My”).Perhaps the ego showed through best in LeBron’s opening statement in the “decision” show – something to the effect of “I’ve chosen to bring my talents to South Beach”. Not, “I’ve decided to join the Miami Heat in hopes of bringing them a championship”.The odd aspect of his ego is that he did choose to join someone else’s team rather than build it in Chicago or New York. No matter what LeBron and Chris Bosh do, it will still be DWade’s respond to your basic theme, I agree that shifting more power to the athlete (or the artist) and away from the owners is probably a good thing. In this case, I think both Dan Gilbert and LeBron James have damaged their brands. Of course a championship will quickly fix that and LeBron and the Heat are much better positioned for that than Gilbert and the Cavs.But the sad part is that LeBron could have easily come out the hero in this.Had he simply come out and said “I’ve given this a lot of thought and spoken with a lot of people. My final decision is based on the fact that I have the best chance to win a championship if I go to Miami – AND I get the chance to play with two of my closest friends. And, I’m willing to leave some money on the table for that opportunity” – then he would have come out looking like a good guy.

    1. fredwilson

      you knew he was leaving when he walked off the court after losing in the playoffshis body language said everything

  22. Dan Ramsden

    I can’t imagine MJ orchestrating a team-up with Patrick and Sir Charles. In fact, what defined each of those three and made them forever great, was the competition with each other. If some of the value of sports is the lessons that it teaches to kids – heroism, hard work, dedication – that value has been dimished with LBJ’s move. The NBA now is another reality TV show, not much more.

    1. fredwilson

      but i bet Patrick and Charles are looking at this move and saying “why didn’t we do that?”

      1. Dan Ramsden

        Maybe, but I would like to keep thinking otherwise.

      2. Dan Ramsden

        Also, if any of the three amigos had aspirations at MJ-ness, now they are forever Patrick and Sir Charles, at best.

        1. fredwilson

          but maybe they’ll get a ring or twopatrick is my favorite player everwatched him through high school in boston, four years at Georgetown where my mom worked for Coach Thompson, and then he came to my adopted town and tried like hell to bring us a championshiphe didn’t. Hakeem and MJ beat him in college and then again in the proslooking back, i wish Patrick had teamed up with Charles and maybe one other all-starhe never really had anyone great around him. Starks and Mark Jackson were good, but not great

          1. Dan Ramsden

            Don’t get me started, I am a HUGE fan of the Big Fella. How I miss seeing Patrick around MSG. I still believe that ’97 was the year he would have done it, and even MJ said as much. Another reason to hold Miami forever in contempt.

          2. William Mougayar

            Re: “i wish Patrick had teamed up with Charles and maybe one other all-star”. I think we all have similar wishes,- e.g. I wished Vince Carter had a couple of better players with him when he was with the Raptors, etc…The point is the owners will assemble teams based on financial considerations first and what’s obvious from the start. Players know their chemistry and the chemistry of other players better,and if they could have more say in putting together some winning combinations (like the Trio above mentioned), then the fans will greatly benefit.

          3. Blair Wilson

            Makes me wonder Fred if Patrick would still be your favorite player, if he had conceded to “teaming” up.I think this was probably the tipping point of GEN Y decision making vs. GEN X and why there is so much backlash and contreversy.Welcome to the “I just want to have fun and not the whole responsibility” era.

          4. fredwilson

            i don’t subscribe to “losing is a noble cause”i wanted to see Patrick get a ring so badlyi would have been happy to see him get it after he left the Knicks

          5. sbmiller5

            That’s exactly how i felt about KG, being a life-long t-wolves fan, but KG didn’t give up on his team, the team continuously failed to surround KG and then were shopping him and lied to his face about it.Biggest difference is LBJ is a far superior talent than Ewing. Talentwise LBJ is Jordan/Kobe class and both of them never would have teamed up to win – they’d say eff this, I can beat them on my own.

          6. JLM

            The genius of KG in Boston is the way in which Doc Rivers was able to manage a stable of thoroughbreds — aging thoroughbreds nonetheless. It may take a former player to be able to manage those massive egos.

          7. fredwilson

            Phil Jackson is working in LA. That’s unfortunate because he is the master of that

          8. JLM

            PJ would move to the action because he is an addict. Would he move to coach the Trio?I think so.Just speculating, mind you. Not going to happen.

          9. Satish Mummareddy

            Would you have felt the same way if Patrick left at 25 (or in his peak) to go to Phoenix to win a championship?You feel that way now because Patrick gave 15 years of relentless effort to the Knicks.

          10. fredwilson

            i would have been upset for surebut hindsight is 20/20look at the advice KG gave Lebron

          11. Guest

            Wait… Ewing’s Hoyas beat Akeem’s Cougars in 1984. It was a tough loss for Houston. Hakeem (who added the silent “H”) won in the pros in 1994… Ugly Finals, overshadowed by the “Bronco chase”…

          12. fredwilson

            yes, that was Patrick’s greatest moment as a player in my opinion

          13. Mike O'Horo

            Correction: Georgetown with Ewing, which was clearly the best team in the country during Ewing’s tenure, won one title and barely missed two others. They beat then-Akeem’s Phi Slamma Jamma for the NCAA title in 1984. If Freddie Brown hadn’t passed the ball to James Worthy at the end of the ’82 title game, perhaps MJ’s fame would have been delayed a bit. If there’d been a shot clock in 1985, Villanova wouldn’t even have made the tournament, much less gotten to the final, where they were able to hold the ball enough to take a total of only about 20 shots in the entire game. (Props to them for making 80%, though.)

      3. Mahmoud Hashim

        because by teaming up a trio in the prime of their career you cap their ability to perform to their full potential…if jordan teamed up with sir charles and patrick, how many times would we have seen him take over the 4th quarter and single handedly perform a miracle? That type of entertainment and stage for clutch and legendary individual performances is lost by teaming up like that.Worked for KG, Ray and Pierce because they are in the final stage of their careers…not 25 with a good 10 years to go in the tankThe NBA loses overall when it sees the top 2 out of 3 scorers in the league get bumped out of the top 5 spots in order to make the Trio happen…great for ticket, jersey and ad sales

        1. johnmccarthy

          Basketball is a team sport. 1 individual performing to their full potential while the team loses is a loss for everyone. This is one of the key messages I try to impart to my kids and their friends when coaching their sports teams. If you only want individual glory, play golf or run marathons. Just don’t play team sports. LeBron, Bosh and Wade get this and have decided to subjugate egos for the good of a collective effort. Good for them.

          1. fredwilson

            Tennis also works for the non team inclinedGreat comment john

  23. Alfred Spellman

    The underreported angle on this story is what does this all mean for Miami, one of the worst-ravaged metropolitan areas by the Great Recession according to a Brookings Institution report released a couple weeks ago.With unemployment hovering around 12%, over 100k foreclosures last year and an economy reliant almost entirely on the real estate/construction and tourism/hospitality sectors, does the media attention and hype lift Miami out of the doldrums?There is a solid comparison to be made between Miami in 1983 and Miami in 2010:

  24. William Mougayar

    What if the entire Draft process was turned on its head and they allowed players to pick their teams, instead of the other way around. Then we’d have players whose hearts (not just wallets) are with these teams, and we should get better basketball as a result of that. Even if the top 10 draftees were allowed to name their top 3 choice teams, and then go from there. So many great players start out with teams they didn’t want to be associated with in the first place. What we saw this week was the symptom of that root cause, and it blew up because these players wanted to make a point that it’s their choice that matters. If there was a business analogy, then each team/owner is like a company and they have to start differentiating why they are the ‘best companies to work for’. Hot players (like hot college grads) will gravitate to these best companies.

  25. Guest

    The text below the video is funny.

  26. Satish Mummareddy

    Lebron under the terms of free agency can go anywhere he wants, but it was inhumane to do that on national TV to an owner who bent over backwards for Lebron. The reason that the cavalliers are in the current situation with a bunch of not so great players and with no cap space is because lebron has been threatening that he needs to win a chamionship every year for the last 4 years and they always had to do what they could find for that year and not plan for long term.

    1. fredwilson

      i don’t see it the same wayyou say “And its like the software developers saying, we are more important in a company so we will decide what the product features are and who we sell it to. You sales people do nothing anyways.”i see it like three developers leaving and starting their own company because they think they can do it better

      1. Satish Mummareddy

        I would agree with you if all the players got together and decided tostart a new league based on a new set of rules that suited thembetter. In my opinion the NBA with a bunch of great teams spreadacross the country is the product. A great team by team selves withoutother great teams to beat is not going to make a great product forpeople to watch.

      2. Shripriya

        Not quite – it is the *star* developer from Twitter, Foursquare and Tumblr (let me pick those companies for fun :), without whom each company would struggle, leaving and starting a competing company and not letting any of the current VCs invest.That’s a more apt comparison. Maybe a bit upsetting, but within their rights.

        1. fredwilson

          Exactly. Though at some point companies are not totally dependent on one star developer. And they should not be

          1. Guest


  27. Elbert Clayton

    This statement is to all the up & coming as well as “Born” leaders (CEO’s) that read Fred’s Blog……”King’s Have No Friends”..that goes for CEOs also reading…Remember that next time you have a hard decision because you may now know how it feels for LeBron James (CEO of his destiny and brand) to decide to leave everything he has known since he was Knee-High to pursue a dream to build a lasting dynasty with only 5 close people (3 business partners -childhood friend @LRMR Marketing, his mom, and his high school sweetheart – Savannah ) on his side believing so much in his ability to make the right decision in the end for himself as well as them that they all now have put bulls-eyes on there backs every time they step over the Mason Dixon line to compete on the court as well as brokering a deal to expand the “King” James brand. But, I don’t expect everyone to understand my point that “King’s Have No Friends”.

    1. JLM

      Any CEO who looks for approval from his subordinates is not the CHIEF Executive Officer.Leaders take groups places where they would never get to by themselves.If you are looking for approval, get an Airedale.

      1. Elbert Clayton

        Enough Said!!!!!

  28. schmiddi

    I find all the talk about how it was done ridiculous. This is business and if the Cavs would have announced 5 years from now that they will terminated LeBron’s contract no one would have cared. Companies, sports teams let people go all the time, there is no caring, no loyalty … At least not from the owner/employer, but they somehow demand it from their player/employee … It is a classic do as I say, not do as I do situation.

  29. sbmiller5

    The biggest reason I’m disappointed is I now will have to cheer for Kobe and the Lakers. As many people have commented, the lack of class and respect shown by James will prohibit me from cheering for the Heat. Not to mention, I see no way this team can win a championship.You need at least 7 contributing players to win consistently by filling the team out with a bunch of minimum salary players the big three will have play 40+ minutes every night to win and if one of them gets injured the other two will have to play even more.I predict zero championships from this team and can’t wait to boo them, but ultimately the NBA now has another team for everyone to hate and historically that’s good for sports business.

    1. Guest

      Well, maybe this will change your opinion a bit: they all agreed to take less money (~$15M each), so that the team can sign a couple of more decent players. The rumor is Mike Milelr and Udonis Haslem… They want to win.

      1. sbmiller5

        Actually it doesn’t. Miller’s a good fit, with his outside shooting, but he’s been inconsistent over the past three years, him and Haslem are the 6th & 7th best players on a championship team. It looks like they will be the only non-minimum salary players – I’m not convinced, but then again I’m biased by the fact that I could never cheer for them.

    2. kidmercury

      i agree with you on the desire to boo the heat, but unfortunately i think they have a winning team. basketball is the one major sport where a couple of players can truly dominate a game, by virtue of the fact that there are only 5 guys on the court at any time and there are no real restrictions on what certain positions can do — i.e. guys like magic johnson and lebron james can basically play all five positions. also, they will get a decent supporting cast simply because other players will take a lower salary to play with bosh, wade, and narcissus. and florida has no state income tax, which sort of gives them a higher salary cap than many other states, in an indirect way.i do hope i’m wrong and the heat lose though.

      1. sbmiller5

        Individual players can win games in basketball, not championships. Look at the Champions for the past 10 years, no team has won it without significant contributions from 7+ players throughout the year.The heat were the closest to doing with the less players, but they still had role players stepping up big time.And I don’t think players will take less money, this is the last year of the CBA, next year it’s going to change drastically given the financial condition of the league and players need to get their money now. (note their’s a big difference in taking a pay-cut from a max-salary, than taking a pay-cut down to a min-salary)

      2. Guest

        If Lebron stays in Miami for 6 years, wins 3 championships with Wade and Bosh, I will give him a lot of credit. Until they I say he copped out by not going to Chicago, or NY or Cleavland and lead a team.

      3. JLM

        Small point but professional athletes pay state income taxes based upon which State the actual game is held in. So, when they play in California, they have to pay Cali state income tax on that portion of their income. The bigger issue is deferred comp and when and where received. If these guys are smart — and they are — they are taking huge amounts of deferred comp (secured mind you) whenever possible.

        1. Farhan Lalji

          Wonder how big a factor the state income tax in Florida was on the decision.

    3. Mike O'Horo

      You think that’s why Derek Fisher is in serious discussions with Miami, ‘cuz he thinks they can’t win? There’s your steadying hand in the 4th Q.

  30. Evan

    Although I almost always side with players against owners, the whole Lebron megalomania tour really was like putting a knife in the back to his hometown fans.

  31. Michael B. Aronson

    Its business…My friend who is a very substantial private investor and LP was one of the owners of the Cavs when the ping pong ball came up to get Lebron. They sold the team for at least $100m additional as a result of that to Dan Gilbert. Dan’s investment in now way below water without Lebron. Of course, he made his money by selling out at a very high price to Intuit and then buying the company back cheap. I do feel bad for the Cleveland fans after the way Lebron came up short vs the Celtics and left town without a last hurrah.

  32. Nikhilesh Rao

    Fred,The current situation is more like leaving Company A to join Company B which I guess is a huge advance for the NBA based on what I am following (sorry, dont know the ins and outs of salary caps etc…)Why not the next step:Why cant Lebron and his crew team up with a PE fund and then buy a team and share the spoils? Instead of working for someone else or joining another company?Isn’t this like employees leaving to start their own company?

    1. Gorilla44

      Players are not allowed to own teams while they play. Former players can. Michael Jordan just bought the Charlotte Bobcats for essentially $10M and assuming the teams debt. Magic Johnson also owns a small piece of the Lakers and was part of a group that is trying to buy the Golden State Warriors.

  33. Kevin Morrill

    Lebron James is a great player and a hero. He has every right, in fact a responsibility, to get the best that he can for himself.

  34. Druce

    Your point is well taken about how players’ brands are bigger than most teams’.Basketball is unique in the way 1 or 3 players can really turn a team around so I can’t see this sort of thing spreading to football or baseball.Plus most players aren’t savvy enough to wield the power they have to put together deals that add value – more likely to result in situations like Kobe / Shaq where the personalities and soap opera took away from both of them.All in all, this classless spectacle shows why it’s hard to be an NBA fan.

  35. andyswan

    Rule #1: You’re not a KING, until you WIN.

    1. maverickny

      Hear, Hear!Big time players make big time plays in big time games. Bird, Magic, Jordan and Kobe all wanted the ball in the big playoff matches with the game on the line. LeBron? Not so sure, he often disappeared in big games and seemed to lose interest or heart.The others were all the go-to guy in a team mostly of role players, or one other star prepared to share the limelight – they made others around them better. My sense with LeBron is that while he is ambitious, he just wants to play and hang out with his mates. Very Gen Y.Personally, I couldn’t care less where he ended up, but the shenanigans around how he handled leaving Cleveland and the ESPN show was immature and classless. There is such a thing as courtesy and manners even in business.Still, Riley wins again on this one, but without some solid role players and a selfless point guard, Miami are going to have 3 shooters all competing for the numbers. Time will tell.

  36. Susan Shan

    This whole dynasty concept is backed without any evidence that it will work. Each has been top dog on their former teams. How will they play together? Who will take the last shot? Is LeBron willing to be Scottie Pippen to Dwyane Wade’s MJ? Chemistry plays a big factor here.In addition, Miami traded away FOUR 1st round picks and TWO 2nd round picks in sign and trades with Cleveland and Toronto. Miami has nothing to rebuild with if these guys all choose to opt out of their contracts after the 4th year. Yes, the Heat are only guaranteed four years from each of these guys. Miami banked everything on them and the “guaranteed title” that they would bring. The problem is, what if they don’t win a title? And if they do win, who gets MVP?Way too many issues to iron out to even begin talk that they are a new dynasty. We’ll see what this upcoming season brings.-Susan at

    1. JLM

      Could not possibly agree more.This is the equivalent of the Carolina and Duke McDonald’s All America funhouses which never seem to actually perform until the chemistry set gets broken out.The real test is — can these guys PLAY well together?The weak link in all of this may, in fact, be the coach. He is not Phil Jackson or Doc Rivers for that matter.

  37. Gorilla44

    I disagree strongly that power has shifted from owners to the players. A handful of elite players have some power but the bottom line is that something like 60% of NBA (and NFL) players are bankrupt within 5 years of retiring. This means that the owners have the ultimate power in collective bargaining.Antoine Walker, Kenny Anderson, Jason Caffey, Latrell Sprewell, Kareem Abdul Jabbar are just some examples of guys that made serious money and went bankrupt. (Antoine Walker made over $100M in his career)If the owners would ever lock out the players, as in the case of a strike, the players would be in serious trouble in a matter of months and would cave in to whatever the owners demanded.Guys like LeBron and DWade have money for life, but most of the league spends money like no tomorrow.If you made $100M would any of you be in bankruptcy? I would guess that 99.999% of the people that regularly read Fred’s blog would probably never sniff bankruptcy if they earned $100M in their career.The NBA’s collective bargaining agreement is set to expire after this coming season. David Stern and the owners (billionaires like Mark Cuban, Paul Allen, and James Dolan) have been very adamant that the current system will change. I guarantee that the players blink first in that fight.

    1. fredwilson

      The current system isn’t working. That is for sure

    2. Rick Wingender

      No denying anything you said Gorilla, but it does just illustrate how dumb our athletes are. I’ve been advocating 2 years of personal finance training in high school for ALL students for most of my adult life, in place of other classes that are a complete waste of time, like art and music electives. The NBA and others should at least adopt a rule that says you cannot turn pro until you’ve had a person finance class in college and passed it with a B or better.

  38. WA

    I am not certain Fred, but one would think that given the freedom from a state tax consequence this may be an example of a deal driven by the virtue (is that possible?) of favorable legislative policy. From the Three Amigo and their advisors perspective that is a lot of extra coin with Talahassee keeping out of their pockets. Has to to help lower one’s personal lifestyle hurdle rates. Speaking of which are congrats in order for the Google Zynga news released a few minutes back? Awsome. Enjoy your trip and journey back safely.

  39. johnny5alive5

    If it’s a trend, there’d be no guess as to who’s in the playoffs and in the nba finals for years to come. And that would be bad for the NBA, as for any sports league.

  40. kidmercury

    i was inspired by the discussion here today to write a song dissing lebron james. below is the youtube link. it’s called “cleveland’s villian (lebron james diss song)”…the song has been uploaded to itunes, amazon, and napster. as is customary with kid mercury antics, marketing for this song will continue until lebron tweets a link to if that occurs the song will be taken down and most likely will be replaced with a new song praising lebron for linking to 9/11 all honesty i’m not a huge fan of the song. i didn’t mention 9/11 in the lyrics, it would be a much better song if i did, but then you youngsters would be afraid as you are willfully ignorant about important things, so i’m in a bit of a catch-22. but it still did give me a chuckle, both the song and more importantly the concept of the song (i.e. some random guy writing a diss song about lebron james, now i’m going to market it to all the nba players on twitter….hahahaha). i also managed to get a comic sans joke in there, lolanyway, please help me spread the song far and wide!

    1. Satish Mummareddy

      Neat song. It was funny.

  41. jeremystein

    that letter read like a man who is trying to inspire a city.

    1. jeremystein

      if he was in denial, he would file a tampering complaint.hes not going to.

    2. fredwilson

      You know more about cleveland than I do jeremy but that sure didn’t feel inspirational to me. Empty promises don’t inspire. How is he actually going to deliver the title he promised?

  42. jeremystein

    fred,there is nothing ballsy about lebrons move to miami.hes a follower and always has been. he followed his friends to SVSM, wasnt the leader he pretended to be on the cavs, and is following others in hopes to get a ring.lebron will never be a great champion. great champions never lose their enthusiasm for winning. he flat out quit in the playoffs. theres no denying that.that move was completely selfish and disloyal. i dont even want to get started on how he forced the cavs to play their hand.he lied to a city that loves him.its disgusting.its devastating.

    1. fredwilson

      You are a cleveland fan. Of course you feel that way. Imagine if you were a miami fan. You are not able to look at this objectively right now

      1. jeremystein

        ill tackle both of your comments in this thread.i dont think anyone believes that gilbert will make good on his promise to win a ring before lebron does.empty promises dont inspire, but sometimes you have to be human. everyone is feeling this way. and its comforting to see this type of reaction.youre right, im a cleveland fan and im totally biased.lebron signed a four year contract with the cavs. it could have been six. he signalled that we need to win. and fast.the cavs did nothing but try to put the best team together. we wanted to win and supported lebron every step of the way.lebron, and the rest of the “council” approved every roster move. he helped build the team and has decided to abandon more than just a cavs fan. im a cleveland fan.the rest of the country might think his reaction is childish. but to cleveland it shows his devotion. his loyalty.gilbert has done a lot for the city. he moved a large portion of his company to cleveland. its created a lot of jobs.there are two cleveland tourism videos on youtube:…although funny, there are real truths. to an extent, our economy is built around lebron james.people poke fun at that. but sports is one of the largest industries in cleveland right now. and it supports a lot of local businesses. in the mid 2000s when the indians went downhill, they took out a lot of bars and restaurants. 10k people/game doesnt support that ecosystem.lebron leaving will have the same effect. but it will take out most of the remaining local establishments.its sad.hes a one man stimulus package and its going to have a profound impact on my city.lebron played us. a ring would have been nice. but the hope he represented was just fine. hes finally been exposed for what he is.and so has dan gilbert– loyal. hes more than just an owner.

        1. fredwilson

          When you build a company, you can’t be reliant on any one customer, employee, or productSo if cleveland was reliant on lebron, that was a mistake.They should have started planning for his departure three years ago when he signaled with a short term contract that he wasn’t likely to play his entire career in cleveland

          1. jeremystein

            this is basketball. one player can have an enormous impact.youre telling me that the lakers arent reliant on kobe? the nuggets arentreliant on melo? thunder and durant?how can you plan for his departure? you need to embrace him. it was our bestchance to win. we had to do everything we could to achieve that goal. youcant prepare for the future when you need to win today.we had opportunities to get other players and rightfully passed. we passedon amare because he didnt have the right leaves a bad taste when you build your own team, and then walk out.sometimes you need to ignore the facts and believe. i think everyonebelieved lebron was staying.

          2. Guest

            Dan Gilbert had went all in 3 years ago.

  43. GiordanoBC

    Also, if you’re young, rich and want to enjoy life, why would you want to stay in Cleveland? That, and the fact that Florida doesn’t have any state tax (a $25M difference for him with respect to NY), probably played a role.

  44. Terry J. Leach

    Very Interesting post Fred. I didn’t like the way the process of Lebron going to Miami transpired, but put in the larger contexts of talent going for the best work environment it seems to be plausible. It is good to see talent go for something besides the largest contract possible.

  45. tgodin

    I’m late to the party, but I read this from Michael Wilbon in the Washington Post and thought the last sentence in particular germane to this community, as associations (or relationships) are a key subject here.”More than likely, we’re seeing a cultural shift in the game because of the way kids play basketball now: on multiple travel teams, many of them through AAU competition. They all know each other these days by the time they’re 16, 17 years old. Associations, in this new basketball world, are more important and have deeper roots than teams.”

    1. fredwilson


  46. monsur

    I have no problem with LeBron’s decision, but the bloated hubris with which he is going about it has me rooting against him.

  47. Mike O'Horo

    How does Gilbert think his petulant tirade will play with future potential free agents being recruited to Cleveland? “Hmm, let’s see. If I play out my entire contract, fill up the stands every night, sell tons of branded merchandise, send TV ratings skyward and make the team credible again, then move on in a way that displeases this guy’s outsize ego, he’ll trash me publicly. Yeah, that’s exactly where I want to take my marquee value.” Gilbert eschewed shooting himself in the foot, instead aiming directly at his temple; would that he would have aimed at his mouth.

  48. Iggy Fanlo

    Your comments: Dead ONDan Gilbert and his “future”: DOA

  49. Sahil Gupta

    I completely disagree, I don’t think what Dan Gilbert was saying had anything to do with the player owner relationship; what he was doing was standing up for his fan base (the city of Cleveland) who felt betrayed by Lebron. My post on the subject matter is included: http://sahilgupta0817.wordp

  50. Nicholas Hall

    Fred,A couple of things – first, I agree with your comment about the possibility of bitterness or something that we don’t know about. There’s some hostility in what LeBron did. He’s a necessary narcissist given his abilities and role on a professional team, but he’s not a complete idiot. Even if he was, he’s got a team of handlers/mangers that are much, much more skilled than to let him walk into a situation that would burn bridges like this without reason. I bet there’s another side of the story that none of us know (sounds familiar right?) but the court of public opinion is both divided and looking for meaning – great for buzz, potentially bad for LeBron’s public image.Second, I agree with the idea that this is a ballsy move – and a potential shift in the league power structure. Listening to the Bill Simmons’ (ESPN) of the world they’re proclaiming the foolishness of the decision based on the fact that Miami has little money to pay the remaining requisite role players. But they missed out on a pretty basic principle that holds true in both business and sports: True talent attracts great, driven, dreaming role players. I bet with those three agreeing to play together for the foreseeable near future, you have a whole host of individuals who are now thinking team mentality in the quest for championships. It’s similar in the biz world – we’re willing to take pay cuts, maybe a wacky title, and a whole lot of uncertainty to play with the people we see as the LeBron’s of the start-up world.Classy departure from Cleveland, no – but thankfully Dan Gilbert and Jesse Jackson took the heat off of his mishandled PR move for him. Great teams are capable of great things, but watching these guys decide to play together, as a team, that’s an inspirational thing in a league full of individuals and limelight hogs. I hope these guys have as much fun playing as it appears, and think it was a good move from LeBron – hey, I’m even from Cleveland, so you know that’s a biased but honest assessment.

  51. JamesF

    Lebron was looking for rings, and not a challenge. A challenge is what makes a legend.Michael Jordan is legend, Kobe will soon be legend, Lebron will not. Sad, as I am a Lebron fan, but this isn’t a good look for the long-term of things..Plus, he is getting alittle too cocky now.. 8 rings? 0_o

  52. Aaron Klein

    There are several things LeBron needs coaching on before he will become “King James”.First, that there is no “I” in the word “team”.Second, when you’re about to break someone’s heart with a tough decision, don’t set fire to the bridges in the mean time.Third, remember your brand and what you stand for. When you build a brand as the storybook kid who grew up in the projects and made good, figure out a way to stay true to that and tell the story of why Cleveland made you who you are, even as you leave.

  53. RW

    I find the move inspiring.Three guys who obviously wanted to play together and win a championship figured out how to do it.They ignored all the pressure from the fans and worked the free agency rules to follow their dream.The Heat is going to be HOT and am excited about watching the games this season.I just wish they would have done this with the Knicks. 🙂

  54. Rick Wingender

    I suspect (and am in agreement with one of ESPN’s Sports Reporters hosts) that Lebron did it this way as a bit of an elbow to the Cav’s owner. We don’t know what that guy is really like, and you reap what you sow. Maybe LeBron felt like the owner didn’t have a lot of class himself, or broke some promises about giving Lebron some help. The owner’s outburst certainly supports that theory. Maybe if he had more class for seven years, Lebron would have announced the decision differently. I’m not a Lebron fan or a Cleveland fan, but I did live in Cleveland for a few years, and never saw that team do anything to suggest it was serious about winning a title, unlike the Indians.