LeBron James speaks at the LeBron James announcement of his future NBA plans at the Boys & Girls Club of America on July 8, 2010 in Greenwich, Connecticut. James announced during a live broadcast on ESPN that he will play for the Miami Heat next season. (Photo by Larry Busacca/Getty Images for Estabrook Group)

LeBron James’ hour-long narcissistic wankfest infomerical called “The Decision” may have happened five days ago, but reactions from esteemed sports writers and culture critics are still coming out. Tas and Skeets shot a 20-minute show with their reactions and I provided my take on Friday, and here are some of the more compelling responses I’ve read since then.

NBA Commissioner David Stern: “Had he asked my advice in advance, I might have suggested that he advise Cleveland at an earlier time than apparently he did that he was leaving, even without announcing where he was going, so we could have eliminated that. I would have advised him not to embark on what has become known as ‘The Decision.’ I think that the advice that he received on this was poor. His performance was fine. His honesty and his integrity shine through. But this decision was ill conceived, badly produced and poorly executed. Those who were interested in it were given our opinion prior to its airing.”

Buzz Bissinger, author of the book LeBron’s Dream Team, in Vanity Fair: “What was revealing about LeBron’s decision was the degree in which it appeared to be motivated by going to a team where he will no longer have the pressure of the last shot. He obviously began to resent that role in Cleveland. But in Miami he now has the perfect out in Dwyane Wade. The Miami all-star has no fear of shooting the game-winning basket, and LeBron will have no problem in letting him do it. It means that LeBron will play a different role than league-leading scorer, and it also means that it is now absurd to speak of him in the same breath as Kobe Bryant and Michael Jordan.”

Bill Simmons, ESPN.com columnist and author of The Book of Basketball: “For LeBron not to understand what he was doing — or even worse, not to care — made me quickly turn off the television, find my kids, give them their nightly bath and try to forget the sports atrocity that I had just witnessed. He just couldn’t have handled it worse. Never in my life can I remember someone swinging from likable to unlikable that quickly. I will forgive him some day because I like watching him play basketball, and whether you’re rooting for or against him, his alliance with Dwyane Wade and Chris Bosh in Miami created one the greatest ‘Holy s—, how is this going to play out?????’ scenarios in recent sports history. Sports are supposed to be fun, and eventually, this will become fun — for everyone but people in Cleveland — because we finally have a Yankees of basketball. But I will never, ever, not in a million years, understand why it had to play out that way. If LeBron James is the future of sports, then I shudder for the future.”

Will Leitch for New York Magazine: “LeBron James, thanks to this debacle, will never be the same. (That he appears unable to understand why is the precise reason why.) ESPN, it feels, will never quite be the same: There were surely thousands of employees there who rubbed their eyes, aghast at what they were watching, guilty to be a part of it. The NBA, the hunger laid bare and the wound gaping for all to see, may never be the same. And the fear is that we won’t be the same. The fear is that we’ve truly seen the ugly, dark heart of sports, and we won’t be able to come back. It feels extremely stupid to be a sports fan. It feels pointless. None of this felt harmless tonight. And we allowed this to happen. Perhaps this is what we deserve. Perhaps this will be good for us, all of us.”

Tommy Craggs for Deadspin: “LeBron’s failure last night was not in the decision itself, but in screwing up the theatrics of it. The show, as we all know, turned out to be a tone-deaf festival of self-mythologizing that couldn’t have been tackier if Jim Gray had banged a gong at irregular intervals. But it didn’t have to be like that. Imagine what today’s response would’ve been if, for instance, LeBron had arrived on set with Chris Bosh and Dwyane Wade, arms linked, all of them extolling the glories of friendship and teamwork and otherwise capering about like the sailors from On the Town. The show would’ve been plenty obnoxious still, particularly to Cleveland fans, but LeBron wouldn’t have looked so much like a smirking kid throwing the world’s most lavish birthday party for himself. The problem wasn’t that he was selling himself on television. It was that he sold himself so poorly.”

Joe Posnanski, columnist for SI.com: “If this thing was about public relations, well, it’s pretty clearly a disaster. LeBron James entered the free agency time as the most popular player in the NBA. He leaves having alienated New York, Chicago, Los Angeles and everyone who associates with the pain of Cleveland. He will get booed pretty much everywhere he goes. I really don’t get the benefits.”

Adrian Wojnarowski, columnist for Yahoo! Sports: “As the worst idea in the history of marketing unfolded, James looked trapped somewhere between despondence and defiance. His bumbling buddy Maverick Carter had walked him into the public execution of his legacy, his image, and there was a part of James that clearly wished he could turn back through the doors and hide. Only, it was too late. No going back now. James goes to the Miami Heat, Cleveland goes into a basketball Hades and LeBron’s legacy becomes that of a callous carpetbagger. ‘His brand is [bleep] now, one high-level NBA official said late Thursday. ‘He’s destroyed everything.’”

Matt Taibbi for Rolling Stone: “The weird thing about this LeBron story is that seven or eight years ago, he seemed like a nice kid. All he did was step into a media machinery designed to create, reward, nurture, and worship self-obsessed assholes. He was raw clay when he went in, and now he’s everything we ever wanted him to be — a lost, attention-craving narcissistic monster who simultaneously despises and needs the slithering insect-mortals who by the millions are bent over licking his toes (represented in The Decision by the ball-less, drooling sycophant Jim Gray).”

Comments (20)

  1. I’ve read millions of articles about this whole fiasco, and it’s sad that even the writers who are usually so supportive of him, or columns that are meant to talk about the positives of his decision still end up leaving a bit of a negative tone at the end. Even Jordan finally coming out and saying that Kobe is the better player has to be STRONGLY influenced by these events (which by the way made me extremely happy!)

  2. Kevin: I think for most people, their problem isn’t with his decision but the way he carried it out. I think it’s obvious that the media and fans contributed to this debacle and now almost everyone outside of Miami is left with a bad taste in their mouths.

  3. Yawn. Tired reporting of the jump on the bandwagon variety. It’s what I’ve come to expect from “journalists” unfortunately. I’m a New Yorker and the fact that Lebron didn’t come here is neither shocking nor does it effect my view of him. Don’t care. It’s his life.

    Don’t care how he left. I’m a huge sports fan but seriously. Get some perspective. It’ll be fun to watch them play next season and hopefully they can crush the Lakers repeatedly.

  4. You’ve been working at a company giving it your all for 7 years.
    The company has blossomed while you are there primarily because of your work there.
    But you’ve reached the glass ceiling.
    The company has nowhere to go but down, it’s no longer fun and the owner is insane.

    Get outta dodge, sign a check over to a charity in the city you’ve longed supported and tell all the onlookers to shut up!

  5. Nice piece. I wont be rooting for him or Miami. I am over it. Lets talk about something else.

  6. Josh: I mostly threw this up so that slightly awkward post about the Raptors-Bobcats trade that didn’t happen isn’t at the top of the blog. The Jones boys have something AMAZING in the works that should be up shortly.

  7. Will Leitch sounds borderline insane. I think the Decision thing was tacky too, but it doesn’t make LeBron a monster. He’s 25 years old and has been treated like a god for years now. Of course he has a big ego, he’s a human being. Calm down.

  8. Good on you pastrypride. I took a peak at the comments on Rolling Stone and Matt Talibi (or whatever) is getting scorched there too.

  9. Yeah Will Leitch’s article is sooooo over the top and ridiculous.

  10. I hope Will Leitch is right… that in the end, this is good for all of us.

    I always felt uncomfortable with LeBron being the most idolised player in the NBA… now I hope that more people flock to the likes of Kevin Durant and Brandon Roy.

  11. @Scott: I completely agree, I have no problem with his actual decision either (in fact being a Lakers fan, I am really really looking forward to it for the reasons mentioned in your previous article). I think even without the media/fans exacerbating this, anyone with a little bit of a moral compass will still have a bad taste in their mouth from the way it was carried out.

    Anyways, love your articles, keep up the good work!

  12. Adrian W. nails it with his article. I’d check it out if you get the chance. Scott, nice work putting this together.

  13. Talk about an overreaction. This is crazy. Who gives a crap about the way in which his decision came out? It’s all about the decision itself, and in that, there are really no issues.

    People looking to hate on LBJ. It’s the norm though, people look for reasons to hate the best at whatever it is they do. LeBron is the best basketball player on the planet and he certainly opened up that door. That should not be the focus though. His actual decision should be the focus, and no one is proportionally talking about THAT.

    TALK ABOUT THAT

  14. Why is the TBJ blog perpetuating this LeBron character hate? One of the reasons I come to this blog is so I don’t have to read people bashing on the characters of NBA players and focusing on their games. Who wants to read retweets of people hating let’s get over it.

  15. And in response to Bissinger (and everyone else on the planet), if LeBron has fallen out of the breath of Kobe and Michael, where does he land? The same breath as Magic? The fact that Kobe and Michael are mentioned in the first breath means that you’re basing it not on skill but on ability to finish consistently, because Kobe is no where close to being in Michael’s league. People have taken this piece of MJ’s game, his deadly ability to finish, and placed it as a requirement for anyone trying to be the best player. Not only does it favor guards and Melo-type SFs, it’s just plain wrong because Shaq was a center and was the best player in the NBA for years (including the three years he won with Kobe). Finishing ability is great but it’s only part of the equation, and placing it over the other 3 quarters and 11:58 minutes is just wrong. Just because Kobe resembles Jordan in that aspect of his game doesn’t mean he’s anywhere close to him in general. Nor does it mean he has reached some level that is no unattainable for LeBron.

    This is the breath Jordan is in: Scottie Pippen is BETTER than Dwyane Wade. At least for now. Scottie is one of the best perimeter defenders ever, a better rebounder and a better passer (he didn’t dominate the ball and still got 6-7 apg). Thus, you are ignoring NBA history if you think LeBron’s diminishes his legacy by playing with Wade. How about Kobe’s breath? Shaquille O’Neal was Finals MVP the first three titles, who some argue to be the best center ever. Wow, what an impressive breath. His last two titles have come with future HoF Pau, one of the best perimeter defenders ever in Artest, most versatile 6th man in the league Lamar Odom, and one of the best centers in the league who they never even have to use. LeBron didn’t even have an All-Star on his team. I LOL in the face of anyone who talks about Michael or Kobe’s breath.

  16. Why have these last few posts been on the TBJ page and not the Nothing Easy blog page? Just wondering.

  17. Lola: We’ve folded Nothing Easy and Holly and I are contributing to this blog now. We decided it didn’t make sense to have two different NBA blogs. Judging by the much-larger audience Holly and I are getting for our posts now, I’m confident this was a wise decision.

    We have big plans for the TBJ blog and it’s going to get even better by the time the next season rolls around.

  18. I knew they’d consolidate their assets eventually. Let’s face it, the Nothing Easy/Courtsurfing blog was a bloody ghost town in the comments section, except for the occasional turkish super-fan venting about the misuse of their “superweapon” in Hedo.

  19. :Shaquille O’Neal was Finals MVP the first three titles, who some argue to be the best center ever. :

    Then those people are idiots. Seriously, Shaq? Above Russell? Hell, above Wilt? You’d have a hard time convincing me he was better than Hakeem – Shaq only wins that argument in my mind because of his better postseason record (Twice as many rings and finals)..

  20. @Stephen

    John Hollinger is the main example of someone who considers Shaq the best ever. Personally I think it’s Kareem.

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