It was an event that some argued was the worst sports moment in recent memory. It lacked taste, exemplified callowness, and represented the league in a poor light. Yet, almost a year after "The Decision" aired on ESPN in primetime, LeBron James has his team, the Miami Heat, in the finals. There's obviously something to be said for that, though with his team facing a 3-2 deficit heading into tonight's Game 6 in Miami, this experiment could still fall a wee bit short. Because of "The Decision" and how Miami assembled their current roster of stars, anyone who isn't a Heat fan is rooting against them. Especially against LeBron. "We don't hate LeBron because The Decision was a bad idea, we hate LeBron because he didn't realize that The Decision was a bad idea," says Carles at Grantland. But not everyone agrees that we should continue to harbor such ill will. Here, a roundup of what sports columnists are saying about "The Decision" as the Heat sit on the brink of elimination:
It's time to forgive him: At the time, I called it "the most narcissistic bit of athletic behavior ever, and I ripped him for it," says Bill Plaschke at the Los Angeles Times. "But as time has passed, I've realized that James was an immature 25-year-old who was taking advice from other immature 25-year-olds. Wouldn't we hate for our lives to be forever stained by one of the many stupid things we all did in our mid-twenties?"
I'm still seething: "I like Dwayne Wade and Chris Bosh. But LeBron? Different story. I strongly dislike him with a passion," says Jim Johnson in Indiana's Journal Review. "Had LeBron just kept his mouth shut and quietly went to Miami, my feelings towards him would be far better." The way he did it, however, makes me "want to see him suffer." As a result, I'm rooting for the Western Conference team for the first time.
LeBron must show up tonight: "A long way from The Decision, a long way from that Boys & Girls Club, LeBron James is the one who needs to be great Sunday night. Or this summer will be so much worse than the last one it won't even be close," says Mike Lupica in the New York Daily News.
Let's get some perspective, please: LeBron upset us, says Gabe O'Connor at NPR, "but there are worse things" that players do than opt "to play with his good friend for the sake of winning a championship." So, yes, LeBron "did tear out the heart of an entire city and set it on fire on national TV while laughing like an insane person," but we've overreactied a bit to its impact and importance.
"The Decision" has hurt LeBron the most: "James is lost," says Jason Whitlock at Fox Sports. "The Decision and this marvelous NBA season vaulted him to global-icon status." However, because of the massive amounts of attention he's gotten, "we shouldn't be surprised he's having trouble handling the moment." And it's showing on the court.