The King was in London last week for a Nike promotional event at the London School of Basketball, and opened up a bit for the UK publication, The Guardian while he was there.
Among the topics discussed were LeBron’s minority stake in professional soccer (or futbol, depending on which piece of soil you’re standing on right now) club Liverpool and how it affects his worldwide brand, the NBA lockout (of course), Joe Frazier passing, his new signature Nike shoes, and a rehashing of the Miami Heat’s disappointing Finals loss to the Dallas Mavericks.
One of the more interesting tidbits of the interview (very good read by the way) came when Bron was asked about leaving Cleveland in the form of “The Decision”, the infamous ESPN-produced broadcast in which James announced his intentions to join the Heat last July, and the damage it has done to his image in the 16 months since.
Q: The screening of ‘The Decision’ hurt you and your image – were you surprised by the bitterness of the reaction?
A: Um, yeah, but I can understand it. I was surprised by it because I was making a decision for myself. I was doing something that I believed was going to make me happy and freshen me up, personally. But looking back at it now I can understand why a lot of people were upset. That definitely wasn’t my intention: to upset people. My intention was to go and play for a team, play for a franchise, that believe in me, and I believe in them.
LeBron has expressed a modicum of regret regarding his controversial free agency declaration – most notably after eviscerating the Boston Celtics in Game 5 of the Eastern Conference Semi-Finals last season – but that “apology” seemed to come short on the contriteness scale, as it came while he was at his highest moment and temporarily basking in a sea of good will. Nobody cares about the overly-sensitive city you spurned after you just almost single-handedly killed your long-time nemesis in the clutch.
Conversely, after more than a year since The Decision, a nationally-televised jersey bonfire, a drama-filled 2010-2011 season that raised the league’s profile and popularity (mostly due to LeBron’s move to South Beach), and an ever-increasing bank account, LeBron has every reason to bequeath every inch of scorn he can bestow upon his former franchise and its fans.
Showing the high road gets him closer to mythical beloved status he once enjoyed before July 8, 2010 and seemingly back in the good graces of mainstream America.