A very loud minority believed that LeBron James's 'Decision' in 2010 was a bad one for LeBron James. Most who vociferously disagreed with LeBron's move attacked the lack of tact afforded the good people of Cleveland, or questioned whether stars of yesteryear would have joined with rivals in the primes of their careers.
(Those stars of yesteryear aided the detractors by reassuring the world they never would have done what LeBron did, neglecting to note that they all played with Hall of Famers and not Mo Williameses and Sasha Pavlovicii.)
But there were those who believed, or at least claimed to believe, that LeBron's 'Decision' would be what felled his career and legacy.
The argument was that even if LeBron did win multiple championships in Miami, they'd be cheapened because James had the temerity to need help from Dwyane Wade and Chris Bosh. As it turns out, in both of Miami's titles, LeBron was very obviously the best player on the team, the alpha dog. He's the only player in NBA history to average 25-10-7 in the Finals ... and he did it in 2012 and 2013. In the 2013 postseason he increased his NBA record Game 7 points-per-game average. He was dominant in two straight elimination games against a Spurs team that was 12-2 in the playoffs before the Finals. Bosh scored zero points in Game 7. Wade was clearly not himself all postseason, despite flashes of greatness in each series.
For the playoffs, LeBron averaged 26 points per game. Wade averaged 16. Bosh averaged 12. No one is questioning whether LeBron did his part to claim this title. No one is talking about a cheapened ring right now.
And of course, there's that other subset of anti-Decision loudmouths who seemed to believe that the Basketball Gods would punish LeBron for disloyalty or seeking the ultimate prize instead of more personal glory -- we'll call them the Dan Gilbert sect. They can be dismissed as sore, false know-it-alls blinded with dislike for young men who write their own destinies without regard for the unwritten rules decreed by convention. LeBron did LeBron, they objected and hexed him, and he laughed in their faces. Not once, but twice. And counting.
What about the public perception? The signs of weakness, the obvious disloyalty and coldness? LeBron will never be loved in Cleveland (unless he actually returns, which I still doubt). But as it turns out, winning kills a lot of the noise. LeBron, someone whose team couldn't win the championship in Cleveland, knew this all too well. The public cares about winning. And when you don't win despite being the best player in the league, the public is ruthless. LeBron saw that side of it in 2008, 2009 and especially 2010. He saw Kobe get back in the public's good graces with two straight titles after years of what the public deemed selfish play. LeBron knew that the way to get as close to unanimous respect as possible was to win championships. He saw an opportunity to improve his chances greatly in Miami. He won those titles, and he has won the public back.
When 'The Decision' was made, it was made by LeBron for the benefit of LeBron. Turns out the kid knew what he was doing.
Bill Simmons tried to bring The Decision up on ABC on Thursday before the network cut to black, and nobody asked LeBron about it when he was interviewed later. I really wish we could have heard what he would say about it in that moment, in the midst of celebration and defiance evident in his postgame interviews. Without his handlers, his smart PR advisers and his own typical self-restraint in his ear. Hell, we don't even really know how the question could have been posed. Was it an opportunity for LeBron to "U MAD" the world? A question meant to throw James off his balance, to get him defensive? Introspective?
The moment is gone. LeBron will be more exacting and sober (doubly so) in any comments about 'The Decision' going forward. But we know the truth about 'The Decision' now. Really, we all should have known from the beginning.