Within an hour of the Cavaliers’ season ending in Boston, James’ inner circle, including power broker William Wesley, agent Leon Rose and business manager Maverick Carter, stood outside the visiting locker room grumbling about coach Mike Brown.
James had wanted Brown gone a year earlier after the Cavs lost in the Eastern Conference finals to the Orlando Magic – despite Brown guiding Cleveland to 66 victories while winning the league’s Coach of the Year award. Ferry debated Gilbert to keep Brown. He won out, but Ferry knew it would be tough to make that case again in 2010. Every decision the Cavaliers made had to be run past James. He didn’t always get to decide, but he had to be consulted.
This time, Gilbert believed he had to fire Brown to have a chance of re-signing James. When he was fired, Brown purposely left his star’s name out of a public statement of thanks. He knew James had led the movement for his dismissal for more than two years and Brown no longer needed to pretend that he liked, or respected James.
Ferry warned the owner there wouldn’t be a better coach available to hire. Eventually, Gilbert pushed out Ferry, too. The owner wanted to take over a bigger portion of the basketball decision-making and Ferry’s stubbornness made that difficult for him.
The franchise was in complete upheaval, and Gilbert had the Cavaliers trying everything possible to impress a non-responsive James. The Cavaliers star had started to fully distance himself from the organization. He refused to get on the phone and discuss his future with Michigan State’s Tom Izzo, whom Gilbert had offered $30 million to take over as coach.
Before the Cavaliers ever reached out to him, Izzo turned down a less lucrative offer to coach the Chicago Bulls. James wasn’t returning Gilbert’s calls and messages – never mind willing to talk with Izzo. Before Izzo finally turned down Gilbert, he was delivered a direct line to two of James’ close NBA friends, who told him he should only take the job with an expectation he’ll never coach James in Cleveland. Gilbert tried to sell Izzo, but the coach feared there wasn’t a single influential official in the Cavs organization who truly had a relationship with James.
Wow. I highly suggest you read the whole thing.
There’s a lot of good tidbits, including:
* James was nearly left off the 2008 Olympic Team due to his immaturity
* Mike Brown didn’t really care for LeBron
* Gilbert wanted to fire Brown after the Orlando series
* The Cavs kept film sessions short because James would fall asleep or get bored
* Pat Riley doesn’t want to coach again (doesn’t like the grind)
* Tom Izzo was told that he wouldn’t coach LeBron in Cleveland
* LeBron was irked that Derek Rose never reached out to him to play in Chicago
and much much more.
I have to say, I’ve hated on Wojnarowski in the past, but he’s done excellent work throughout this entire free agent period.
If it’s any consolation to Cleveland fans, James comes of like a complete ass throughout this process. The TV show, the lying (Cavs have the edge!!), the drama… he looks like a spoiled, petulant child.
A spoiled, petulant child who happens to be the two-time MVP….
While I’m still pretty pissed at LeBron for how he handled this crap, I can’t deny that I’m intrigued to see how the Heat mesh and gel next year. The basketball dork in me is fascinated by the team that Miami is putting together.
Also, you won’t see me giving away or burning any of my LeBron gear. Despite all the time Iput in watching the guy, this was never personal for me. The dude is an ass and I wish he stayed here, but the last 7 years didn’t suck. The Cleveland freaking Cavaliers mattered. They were on national television a billion times a year. It. Was. Fun.
And yes, they didn’t win a championship. The Cavs didn’t get to the promise land. But neither did Kosar or Newsome or Lofton or Thome or Manny or Price or Daugherty or Sabathia or Victor and we still love those guys, right? Only one team can win every year but it doesn’t mean if you fall short it was a waste.
To me, that’s LeBron’s biggest mistake, he could’ve still left and still been loved (sorta) but his decision to air The Decision will cost him big time in his home state:
Back in Akron, James still wanted to go through his live hourlong television show on July 8 to announce his decision. This had been Maverick Carter’s big idea, his production, and still people around him worried about the fallout in Cleveland. Several friends told James this was a bad idea to do to his hometown, that leaving the Cavaliers live on national television would make this a public-relations disaster for him.
James didn’t seem to agree, didn’t think it made a difference. Mad was mad, he thought. He would take a beating, but it would subside and people would love him again in Cleveland. The TV event had delivered hope to the Cavaliers that they would keep James because they never believed he would go on air and open himself to such a visceral reaction.
He strung the Cavaliers along until the very end.