“In this fall… this is very tough… in this fall, I’m going to take my talents to South Beach and join the Miami Heat.” The most infamous sentence in LeBron‘s career and the only mistake he made. Not the decision, but “The Decision.” LeBron knew people in Cleveland would be mad and disappointed, but he couldn’t foresee what was about to happen.
The Decision has been dissected a million times, and we all know the conclusion. LeBron did the right thing by joining the Miami Heat, but the way he did it was wrong. This was serving divorce papers by letting your partner know you are hooking up with someone else, while everyone who cares is watching. With all that in mind, LeBron and Wade had no idea it would cause pure hate.
“I’ve seen some hate that I didn’t know existed. And I come from the inner city of Chicago. When you talk about racism, when you talk about things people said to us. It was on display night after night. … At that time we had to have so much security around us because the hate was real”Dwyane Wade, OM3 Podcast w/ JJ Redick & Tommy Alter
Wade said he could understand fans had a vision of LeBron’s career mirroring MJ – stay with the same team your whole career win and 6-7 titles. Up to that point, it was OK if teams controlled the creation of superteams. Danny Ainge was praised for creating a superteam in Boston. LeBron, Wade, and Bosh were criticized for doing it in Miami.
The pinnacle of people taking things too far was LeBron’s first game back in Cleveland. Wade said it’s one of the moments he will remember for as long as he lives. The team could sense the hatred and rage from the locker room, before going on the court.
“The hatred I heard in the locker room, I’ve never heard hate before. If you ever heard the sound of hate before? It is the most uncomfortable thing to experience. It was the looks on people’s faces.”Dwyane Wade, OM3 Podcast w/ JJ Redick & Tommy Alter
What struck Wade was that all this rage and hatred was happening over a basketball decision a player made for himself. It’s a game, serving as an entertainment product, and people were acting like they were war criminals.
Years later, Kevin Durant decided to join the Warriors and went through a similar situation. What made KD’s decision dramatic was the fact OKC had just lost to the Warriors. But, in both circumstances, Wade and Redick agree that race played a part in the way people reacted. That’s one of the reasons that motivated LeBron and Wade to become more active in speaking up against racism and putting their money where their mouth is.