Richard Mackson-USA TODAY Sports
LeBron James is widely regarded as one of the best players in NBA history with the infamous “The Decision” in 2010 seen as a moment that changed the NBA forever. But in the eyes of one of LeBron’s peers, it ruined basketball.
After seven seasons with the Cleveland Cavaliers, his hometown team, LeBron left town to join the Miami Heat in 2010. He announced the league change decision on ESPN in an interview on July 10, 2010. Team up along with Chris Bosh and Dwyane Wade, the NBA’s first “Big Three” won two championships.
While some view LeBron’s departure from Cleveland as positive, former NBA player Iman Shumpert is not one of them. During an interview on The Bootleg Kev podcast, Shumpert said LeBron’s decision ruined basketball and set the stage for other NBA stars to display a lack of loyalty to their teams.
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“He thought he was improving it. … Personally, I loved the NBA for the loyalty that I thought I was there. He basically knocked down the fourth wall.
Iman Shumpert on signing LeBron James with the Miami Heat in 2010
While it is possible that James did it to improve the sport, it seems much more likely that this decision was purely in his own interests. With the best NBA players all defined by the number of championship rings on their fingers, this was the best way to win the NBA Finals.
- LeBron James Stats: 26.8 ppg, 6.7 rpg, 6.5 ppg, 24.68 PER
Of course, the decision had ripple effects which can still be seen today. After losing to the Golden State Warriors, Kevin Durant joined the franchise and won the NBA Finals MVP twice. Fast forward to 2020, LeBron and Anthony Davis won the Los Angeles Lakers’ first championship in a decade.
It’s also worth considering that Shumpert directly benefited from being teammates on a loaded NBA roster. He was part of the 2016 Cavaliers Championship team, led by LeBron, Kyrie Irving and Kevin Love.