Ten years ago, LeBron James entered free agency and made the decision to leave the Cavaliers. The lure of the super-team in Miami was too strong to resist for the NBA superstar so he joined the Heat and won two championship rings. The King broke many hearts in 2010 but Utah star Donovan Mitchell was not one of them.
Mitchell was 13 when "The Decision" aired on live television and he recounted that many people were upset by the direction taken by James. Cleveland is where the NBA star grew up and the dominant feeling then was James put his interest first and brushed aside loyalty in abandoning the Cavs.
The young Mitchell did not join the bandwagon of hate generated by James' decision to seek a better setting for his career. The Jazz point guard said he supported the switch and was dying to see James wearing an NBA ring, which became a reality two years after linking up with the Heat.
"I wanted him to go to Miami at that point, I wanted him to get a ring. I remember there were a lot of upset people there," Fadeaway World reported Mitchell as saying.
The backlash that James had to endure in those days seemed overwhelming but the sentiments changed over the next 10 years. The harsh criticisms that the Lakers superstar received seemed to recall now, and in their stead is a rather new norm for NBA superstars like him.
Gone now are the accusations that James did not give premium to loyalty. Instead, his move a decade ago is now viewed as a game-changer. In the following years, more NBA big names took the same path that James had started and the boos were generally muted.
At best, the stars are now hailed as marketing genius willing to take the bold move of deciding their fate. Kevin Durant left OKC to join the Warriors and it was an adroit maneuver that resulted in two NBA titles wins with the bonus of becoming the Finals MVP twice.
After KD, Kawhi Leonard followed. The Toronto Raptors won the 2019 NBA title but the success did not prevent Leonard from transferring to the Clippers. The MVP wanted to play with Paul George and he seemed convinced of winning more titles campaigning for the Western Conference club.
CBS Sports said "The Decision" might have played out in bad taste 10 years ago but James proved one thing - that he has the power to decide on his fate and take charge of where he wants to bring his game.
It was not appreciated at that time but James only showed that he was free to go where work promises more growth and success. Now rather silently, most of his NBA colleagues are saying he was right by taking the same action that was hugely unpopular before.