Love him or hate him, most NBA fans remember where they were one year ago today when LeBron James said the following during “The Decision” on ESPN:
In this fall I’m going to take my talents to South Beach and join the Miami Heat… I feel like it’s going to give me the best opportunity to win and to win for multiple years, and not only just to win in the regular season or just to win five games in a row or three games in a row, I want to be able to win championships. And I feel like I can compete down there.
The backlash against the self-appointed King started the moment James announced he would make his free agency decision during an hour-long made-for-TV special. While James eventually apologized in May to the fans of Cleveland “for the way it happened,” “The Decision” was not only a ratings success, but its impact was felt throughout the 2010-11 NBA season.
TheGrio takes a look at five key developments that occurred in the past year as a result of “The Decision.”
Record-Setting NBA Ratings
The NBA was must-see TV during the 2010-11 regular season. Ratings were up across the board as basketball fans were glued to their television to see how Miami’s Big Three would impact the rest of the league. The NBA on TNT averaged 2.45 million total viewers during the regular season, up 42 percent from 2009-10 and the largest regular season audience in network history. It remains to be seen if the NBA can keep up the strong ratings following the current lockout.
Cleveland Landing the #1 Pick In The 2011 NBA Draft
How important was James to the Cleveland Cavaliers? In the span of one season, the Cavaliers went from perennial NBA Finals contender to the worst team in the Eastern Conference. Thanks to a 19-63 record, Cleveland landed the top overall pick in the 2011 NBA Draft for the first time since they selected James out of St. Vincent-St. Mary high school in 2003.
Unfortunately for the city of Cleveland, Kyrie Irving, who the Cavaliers select with the pick, is no LeBron James.
The Dallas Mavericks Are Dubbed “America’s Team” During The NBA Finals
The theme song for the Miami Heat during the NBA Finals should have been Tupac’s “Me Against the World”. The basketball world turned against the Heat as they took on “America’s Team” in the Dallas Mavericks. James and the Heat were portrayed as villains all season long — but the Miami hate reached an epic level when the NBA Championship was on the line.
Dirk Nowitzki, who was labeled a choke artist during the 2006 NBA Finals by the media, was all of a sudden the greatest power forward to ever play the game. If you thought the riots in Vancouver following the Stanley Cup Finals was a sign of anger, just imagine the reaction if the Heat won the NBA Finals.
The Knicks Trade For Carmelo Anthony In Hopes Of Their Own Big Three
When the New York Knicks failed to sign James last offseason, the pressure was on for the team to form their own Big Three in the Big Apple. Amar’e Stoudemire was the first piece of the puzzle after the power forward signed a five-year, $99.7 million contract last July.
After several months of speculation, the Knicks finally landed Carmelo Anthony from Denver and depleting their roster in the process. With two-thirds of the Big Apple Three intact, all eyes are on New Orleans Hornets point guard Chris Paul, who can opt out of his contract following the 2012 season.
WATCH NBC SPORTS COVERAGE OF LeBRON’S DECISION AND THE FANS:
Superstars Are Growing Restless With Losing
Thanks to “The Decision,” the power in free agency has drastically shifted from the owners to the players. Superstars on mediocre teams like Paul and Dwight Howard can not only pick where they want to play when their contract is up, but sway prospective free agents to join them in pursuit of a title. Barring a significant change to the salary cap as a result of the lockout, the Miami Heat will be the blueprint on how to assemble a team for years to come.
The jury is still out whether teaming up three superstars in their prime automatically equates a championship — let alone multiples titles as was guaranteed by James following his arrival in Miami.