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“LeBron James had his chance” — When the Golden State Warriors tried to lure LeBron in 2014 but got stonewalled

The Golden State Warriors wanted LeBron James to team up with Stephen Curry.
Miami Heat forward LeBron James reacts after recording an assist against the Golden State Warriors

LeBron James

Before LeBron James and Stephen Curry became two of the fiercest rivals in the NBA, they almost became teammates in 2014. It may be one of the biggest what-ifs in sports history. Here’s the story behind it.

The Golden State Warriors want in

Fresh off his NBA Finals defeat in 2014, rumors immediately mushroomed that James wanted out of Miami. Not only was his contract expiring, he reportedly wasn’t seeing eye-to-eye with Erik Spoelstra and Pat Riley.

This made James the most sought-after player that summer. A report by The Athletic’s Marcus Thompson revealed that the Warriors were one of the teams who wanted LeBron. But they didn’t even get a chance to send in their pitch.

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In 2014, the Warriors wanted in on the sweepstakes. His contract in Miami was ending and he was taking meetings, allowing teams to make their pitches. The Warriors wanted in. They had just lost the first-round series to the Los Angeles Clippers in seven games. Had just fired Mark Jackson and hired Steve Kerr as coach. They were in search of that next element to put them over the hump.

The Warriors worked behind the scenes to get a meeting with LeBron. Couldn’t do it. James’ agent Rich Paul met with the Rockets, Mavericks, Lakers and Suns that summer. He eventually announced he was returning to Cleveland.

As we all know, after James opted out of his contract with the Heat on June 25, 2014, he signed with the Cleveland Cavaliers on July 1. And in his first year back donning the Wine and Gold, the Warriors beat them in the NBA Finals, armed with their new head coach Steve Kerr.

Probable reasons

The question is that why did Rich Paul block the Warriors from saying their pitch? Was it a lack of foresight? Or was it something else? After all, James had been praising Stephen Curry since the guard was at Davidson. It is a bit puzzling, even in hindsight, why James didn’t even entertain the thought of going to the Bay.

It could be that James’ camp sensed some instability in the Warriors’ front office. After all, Mark Jackson guided the team to a decent 51-31 record in his final season with them. Haters claim he did nothing during his time there. But he was instrumental in the development of Stephen Curry and Klay Thompson. Perhaps James was puzzled by the Warriors’ choice to sack the coach.

Whatever the real reason is, we can say everything turned out well for James and the Warriors. James wrote the perfect hero arc by returning home and winning a title. Meanwhile, the Warriors established a dynasty that still stands today. 

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