Da_Mane_Man wrote:DaT WaVeY RiCaN wrote:Hahn:
There's a report out there claiming LeBron had the Knicks as his top choice in 2010 until their failed meeting in Cleveland in 2010. As someone who was in Cleveland that day and covered it, that's not entirely accurate. But I can tell you that New York was initially the only real contender to lure him out of Cleveland until Miami entered the room.
First, you have to understand one truth: LeBron NEVER wanted to leave Cleveland. That was harder for him to do than anyone wants to believe.
Cleveland was home and he didn't want to desert the people who were with him from the start. But Gilbert/Cavs got too deep into bad contracts and an awkward roster because of trades they made. They knew they couldn't attract free agents there. No one wanted to sign there. It was just reality. But LeBron had to be convinced that grass is greener. Even when Riles/Heat laid out the gameplan that had them all excited, LeBron still felt the urge to stay home. He hated to upset people. He hates to let people down even to this day.
Now for the options he had:
Of the teams that met with him those first three days in July, the Bulls, Clippers and Nets weren't real candidates. The Nets were there on July 1 in Cleveland with the Knicks. The Bulls were the next day in Chicago.
Jay-Z arrived for the show in Cleveland and they pushed the "brand" aspect of their move to Brooklyn. LeBron did not relate at all to Brooklyn, really, but it was a cool meeting. LeBron was all basketball then. The idea of starting at ground zero wasn't all that appealing.
Miami was a darkhorse the whole time. They needed to re-sign Dwyane Wade, who was also meeting with teams (he met with the Knicks two days later in Chicago). There was a rumor about Wade and LeBron teaming up in Miami, but their salary cap situation didn't appear to have the room to make it work.
So Miami wasn't ever a real option until Riley laid out the plan of how they could make it work, with a third all-star in Chris Bosh, and it blew them away. How he could get all three and still build pieces to make them a winner. Champions. The whole "Riles threw his rings on the table" thing was just a good story but a misrepresentation of the proposal the Heat as an organization put together.
In reality, they presented a business model for success on the court. Moves they could make, what the roster could look like and how they could sustain it. LeBron had the safety of Wade, a trusted friend, rather than facing the beast of being alone everywhere else. He had star-power with him to take on the Celtics and their Big Three. It would no longer be all LeBron every night.
Oh and did we tell you about the weather in January here?
Now to the Knicks. LeBron has never made it a secret that he loves the Garden and the stage. He liked D'Antoni's system and felt he could put up epic numbers as the point-forward. Mike in the meeting sold LeBron on how he'd average a triple-double without even trying. He'd do what Nash did, only better. D'Antoni was fantastic in the meeting.
Donnie Walsh was in a wheelchair, this is true. During his tenure as Knicks president, Walsh had a few medical issues and this one involved neck surgery that required he temporarily use a wheelchair after the procedure. The timing, of course, wasn't great.
When Maverick Carter saw him being wheeled into the room, he got up right away and tried to assist. LeBron was taken aback. "I'm OK, Mav," Walsh said in his typical rugged old New Yorker accent. Donnie knew what it looked like.
Walsh is a plain speaking man from a different generation. He's honest and doesn't mince words. He's someone I loved having conversations with about the game, the history and players. Carter, Leon Rose and LeBron all had respect for Donnie Walsh.
But Donnie and the Knicks didn't provide as much insight as to how they could build a championship team around LeBron. Instead, they showed him how he could become the biggest star in the world playing in New York. They put together a detailed analysis of potential earnings that could make him, by the end of his career, the world's first billionaire athlete.
That definitely appealed to him, but there was a lot of questions left unanswered about how they'd make him a champion. It was just assumed, once you come here, everyone will want to play with you.
The Knicks showed him a video of celebrities with New York connections who all encouraged him to sign with the Knicks. It ended with the lead actors from his favorite show, The Sopranos, with a personal message. James Gandolfini wasn't one for corny promotions, but he loved the Knicks enough to make an exception. In fact, he did it again at an awards show with LeBron in the audience.
The meeting left the Knicks hopeful, but LeBron and his group didn't give them any indication. They did follow up the next day with some questions about some of what was discussed. That made the Knicks believe there was genuine interest.
In the end, LeBron took the route that had the most immediate potential: Miami. Once Wade and Bosh signed and the Heat started ripping their roster apart to make room, it seemed the best choice to make . . . outside of the easiest one, which would be to stay in Cleveland.
LeBron loves the Garden and the stage. He loves the energy of New York. But what was missing in 2010 was a sustainable plan on the court to make him immediately successful.
Walsh being in a wheelchair was startling and that did play somewhat of a role in their perception of the Knicks. This was a franchise that had gone through a lot of transition over the previous decade since the Ewing era ended. The concern was if Walsh wasn't long for the job, would there be more instability?
Isiah Thomas, the former team president and coach, tried to inject himself into the situation to make a last-ditch effort to appeal to LeBron, but it was too late at that point.
The Knicks planned for two years to make their run at LeBron and were right there. But like in '93, '94, '97 and even '99, they fell agonizingly short.
Some may trace it back to Walsh in a wheelchair. I think it goes back to the day Pat Riley faxed his resignation in 1995.
This is great insight by Hahn... and it also makes me think. Will Leon Rose try a similar model to what Riley did now that he is in charge? After all, he was Lebron's agent at that point. He saw first hand how well that plan worked.
Would he try to strip this roster to acquire 2-3 superstars? Is RJ safe? Is Mitch safe?
Everybody is tradeable if we can package them for a star like Booker