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James LebronThe 2010 announcement that he was leaving the Cleveland Cavaliers for the Miami Heat free agency on a special TV show called “The Decision” is one of the greatest stories in American sport of this century.
Ten years later, the word emerged that the issue of a mail bag from a Detroit Pistons fan to Bill Simmons, then ESPN writer, served as inspiration for the show.
By ESPN Don Van Natta Jr., Drew Wagner sent the following question to Simmons:
“What if LeBron announced he would choose his 2010-11 squad live on ABC on a certain date for a show called ‘LeBron’s Choice? What kind of crazy odds would he get?”
Simmons, however, did more than answer Van Natta’s question:
“During the All-Star Game weekend in Dallas in February 2010, Simmons presented the idea” The LeBron Decision “to James ‘business partner, Maverick Carter; James’ agent at the time, Leon Rose ; and James’s advisor, William “World Wide Wes” Wesley. Simmons met Rose and Wesley. ” They both loved it, “Simmons wrote later in an email.” I mean, I loved it. “This weekend Simmons also enthusiastically presented the idea to several senior ESPN executives.
“Simmons presented two ideas to his bosses: a 90-minute documentary following LeBron on his free agency recruiting tour called” The Courting of the King “, followed by” LeBron’s Decision “, where he would choose his new team in a live broadcast, both broadcast on ABC. “
The ball really started in June when Carter spoke with Hollywood agent Ari Emanuel and broadcaster Jim Gray, who hosted the show.
One thing led to another, and ESPN President John Skipper gave James and Carter an hour of programming for July 8. In return, the The LeBron James Family Foundation donated $ 2 million to the National Boys and Girls Clubs of America.
As for Wagner, the 38-year-old Detroit Pistons fan spoke with Van Natta about his idea that was the inspiration for the show.
“I remember everyone talking about where LeBron would go, and it seemed to me that LeBron should do the same thing as these kids and advertise live on TV. I really liked these Simmons mail bags, and I thought that would be a fun idea to send it. “
Wagner didn’t know his idea was behind “The Decision” until Friday, when national radio broadcasts discussed some of the revelations in a forthcoming Backstory episode of the show. Previously, he thought it was a “strange coincidence. “
“I don’t know how it works,” Wagner told ESPN.
“I always thought I might have put it in some sort of speed … I don’t think I deserve anything or credit. I’m sure a lot of people could have found that kind of ‘idea and kicked off. I’m also pretty sure some people would like to shoot the guy who came up with the idea. “
Fans of the Cavaliers were shocked when James said he would take his talents to South Beach, but they were thrilled four years later when he returned to Cleveland. He then led the Cavs to four consecutive NBA finals, winning one in 2016.