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David Stern on LeBron James’ The Decision: ‘We knew it was going to be terrible, and we tried very hard for it not to happen’

Indiana Pacers v Miami Heat - Game One

MIAMI, FL - MAY 13: Forward Lebron James #6 of the Miami Heat receives the Most Valuable Player Trophy from Commissioner of the NBA David Stern prior to playing against the Indiana Pacers in Game One of the Eastern Conference Semifinals in the 2012 NBA Playoffs on May 13, 2012 at the American Airines Arena in Miami, Florida. The Heat defeated the Pacers 95-86. NOTE TO USER: User expressly acknowledges and agrees that, by downloading and or using this photograph, User is consenting to the terms and conditions of the Getty Images License Agreement. (Photo by Marc Serota/Getty Images)

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The Decision was bad. Everyone agrees. Even LeBron James has apologized and expressed regret for how he announced his departure from Cleveland for Miami in 2010. (Just don’t don’t think too hard about how similar The Decision was to the nationally televised recruiting announcements celebrated annually.)

Anyway, some people – including then-NBA commissioner David Stern – foresaw the negative consequences.

Zach Lowe of ESPN, quoting Ian Thomsen’s “The Soul of Basketball":

“It was terrible,” Stern would say. “It was terrible on its own. It is fair to say that we knew it was going to be terrible, and we tried very hard for it not to happen.”

It obviously took a great amount of confidence in his own importance for LeBron to do The Decision. To do it against the commissioner’s wishes makes that even more true.

In the end, Stern was right. Fair or not, The Decision damaged LeBron’s reputation. He would have been better off skipping the event.

But this was an early – messy – example of LeBron learning how to exercise his vast power. And that served him well in the long run.