It’s the biggest blip on his resume. The way LeBron left Cleveland (the first time) is universally considered as a PR fiasco. The decision itself was smart – he won two rings with Miami and learned about what a great organization looks like from Pat Riley. But the way he did it made everyone mad.
A lot of reactions after The Decision were extreme, from the Cleveland fans burning jerseys to Dan Gilbert’s comic sans letter. Now most famous for the bizarre font choice, people seem to forget the content was quite bitter:
“… This was announced with a several day, narcissistic, self-promotional build-up culminating with a national TV special of his “decision”… I PERSONALLY GUARANTEE THAT THE CLEVELAND CAVALIERS WILL WIN AN NBA CHAMPIONSHIP BEFORE THE SELF-TITLED FORMER ‘KING’ WINS ONE … The self-declared former “King” will be taking the “curse” with him down south. And until he does “right” by Cleveland and Ohio, James (and the town where he plays) will unfortunately own this dreaded spell and bad karma.”
But the most bizarre reaction came from the last place you’d expect it – Guantanamo Bay. Yes, that one. The Guantanamo Bay detention camp. The ultimate proof the NBA has a global reach and people following the sport all over the world. The story goes like this.
Muhammad Rahim was Osama bin Laden’s translator, caught and detained at Guantanamo Bay. He agreed to testify, and for his cooperation, he allegedly got to keep his cat with him – an incentive to keep cooperating. It is not uncommon for prisoners to get little perks if they cooperate with the prosecution. But his next letter caught everyone by surprise (via The Washington Post):
“Dear Mr. Warner!” he wrote in a separate freshly declassified letter. “Lebron James is very bad man. He should apologize to the city of Cleveland.”
Warner says Rahim’s sentiment about the NBA star who left the Cleveland Cavaliers for the Miami Heat reflects his client’s tribal values, in which loyalty is paramount and “betrayals are not tolerated or forgiven, although an honest apology from an offending peer is valued.”
As the article notes, this was all presented through his lawyer, Mr. Wells Dixon, who is from Akron, Ohio; so a grain of salt makes sense here. Still, it’s not outside the realm of possibility.
The cat was one thing, but he must’ve gotten a “that’s gonna be difficult” on the apology. LeBron did return to Cleveland and win a trophy while on the Cavs, so it got sorted out in the end.