David Stern will forever be known as the “trade blocker” as the NBA commissioner. He prevented a blockbuster deal that could have changed the shape of the two franchises. Not many know that Stern attempted to block a move by LeBron James.
Many basketball fans remember the day LeBron James made “The Decision” on live television and became arguably the most infamous moment in his career. For the first seven years playing for the Cleveland Cavaliers, James was disappointed in only making to the NBA Finals once. Ultimately, he believed he needed to join a different team to earn his first championship.
Leaving one team for another via free agency is no big deal. However, the drama built up the decision was incredibly unnecessary. LeBron could have just told Cleveland he was leaving and sign with a new team. Instead, he chose to keep everyone in the dark and make a one hour special dedicated to King James expressing what direction he is going to go.
LeBron chose to make a super team and did it in the most obnoxious fashion. Cleveland fans didn’t take it too well. Gary Hunter, a fan at the local Ohio bar expressed his thoughts. “He kept us in the dark until the very end.”
Hunter had more to say. “What do we look like begging him to stay? He could have had the common decency of letting us know before letting the national media know.” A handful of angry fans were seen burning their jerseys.
In a perfect world, Stern wouldn’t have let this happen. According to ESPN’s Zach Lowe, he thought the LeBron’s television program was terrible. “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 to prevent it from happening.”
No one knows for sure how Stern attempted to stop the show. However, after receiving major backlash, LeBron regretted what he had done. “If I had to go back on it, I probably would do it a little different. I am happy with my decision.”
Imagine the impact on LeBron’s image in the eyes of the Cleveland fans. If Stern stopped the show from airing, maybe the fans wouldn’t have hated him as much. The welcome party probably made fans all around the league hate them.
In the end, whether the show happened or not, critics would have still found something to say about LeBron’s decision. If it wasn’t the show, it would have been the welcome party. If it wasn’t the welcome party, it would have been making a super team. Either way, Stern nearly prevented what is easily Lebron’s most infamous moment in his career.