LeBron did attempt to recruit players to Cleveland prior to The Decision


LeBron James Carmelo Anthony Amare Stoudemire Dwyane Wade

So, remember all of that “LeBron didn’t try to recruit” talk that swirled shortly after July 8, 2010? Turns out that may have been rooted entirely in inaccuracies.

In a story from Brian Windhorst and Ramona Shelburne (who is quietly becoming one of the best NBA reporters in the world), James attempted to recruit Ray Allen, Chris Bosh, Trevor Ariza and Dwyane Wade as potential members of the Cleveland Cavaliers.

Sure, they wanted to play with him. Who wouldn’t? But not in Cleveland. James was the one with a connection to the place, not them. If he wanted to win, he would have to sever those ties and go somewhere where other stars would join him.

The entire story is a must-read and features former Cavs guard Damon Jones who remains close to James, as well as current Cavs center Anderson Varejao. Every sentence is reported. You see just how important relationships are to the four-time MVP.

The waters continue to clear up. Some of it may already under the bridge, meaning little outside of the loose ends that get tied tight. Much of it, however, exists ahead.

Chris Trotman/Getty Images For Nike


  • DK45

    Perhaps it’s all water under the bridge now, but it may be worth noting that Windhorst/Shelburne’s account of LBJ’s 2010 decision process conflicts with Woj’s account from this piece (http://sports.yahoo.com/news/inside-look-lebrons-free-agent-201700258–nba.html). Per Woj, the plan to unite with Bosh/Wade outside of Cleveland was years in the making; “[LeBron] never intended to re-sign with the Cavaliers.”

    Again, who cares at this point, but much like the reporting around Decision 2.0 (When exactly did LeBron make up his mind? Did he or didn’t he tell DWade?), accounts differ.

  • mgbode

    yes, I do find it entirely too convenient the narrative being portrayed in this article, though I do not doubt the quotes gained from Damon Jones and such throughout the piece. It’s how they get pieced together that matters.

    and, I find it extremely hypocritical that BW puts his name on this piece decrying the common narrative that he helped build in the first place.

  • Jason Stout

    Windy can still jump off a professional cliff. Shelburne is definitely growing on me.

  • It’s not THAT bad!

    Gotta be a tad revisionist, no? Didn’t some of the free agents that they were in play for in those year come out and say flatly that LBJ was non-committal. I’m gonna choose to believe he brought up the possibility to a few of those guys, but was never quite pushing it as hard as he could of. It’s hard to argue passionately about this anymore, though. So…..whatever.

  • Wow

    Wade was never coming here. Bosh on the other hand- unlikable, follower, and now overpaid.

  • Backwoods

    Bosh point blank said he was never coming to Cleveland.

  • Backwoods

    That was in 2010. But the previous 5 years before that, no one would come here. Still the same. No free agents are running Cleveland’s way now that Lebron has returned. The only way to get athletes to come to cleveland is to throw big money at them. No one takes a pay cut to live in the snow belt with no night life.

  • Wow

    Nobody said he was, but he was an obnoxious jerk about it and when Miami fell apart like Cleveland did he played a huge role.

  • Harv 21

    Agree with those that think there’s some transparent repair going on here. This is right in the pocket of the standard “unjustly demonized” sports journalism story line. Certainly LeBron was demonized, but that doesn’t change facts. If he recruited, when, and how sincerely? I’m re-reading his letter and it sounds more like he wanted to leave, needed to leave in order to grow up, where the fan passion was not so “overwhelming” (his words). I get that, and it’s fine.

    There’s no reason to change LeBron’s own narrative. Just as there’s no reason to change the fact that Danny Ferry was not competent enough to swing a deal or identify amateur talent in order to get him sufficient help. LeBron was a 25 year old most of us cannot recognize, worldly like no other yet suffocated by expectations of the infantile and neurotic local fanbase, by grown-ass adults deifying him as the instrument to make them finally feel like a champion, or at least less like losers. So Damon Jones says LeBron knew the huge fan blowback was coming. No way – that’s completely inconsistent with the disastrous spectacle of The Decision he created and the hit to his rep.

    Windhorst and Shelburne could have written this story 3 years ago. Damon Jones would have given these quotes – he gives 40 quotes to his own naval any given day. LeBron doesn’t need any more valentine stories written. Ferry screwed the pooch, then LeBron did, then Gilbert jumped in for a piece of the action. LeBron seems wiser, presumably Gilbert will rein in his own worse impulses, and we can pray Griffin is competent.

    Can we now move past what went wrong in Act I? Let’s see how Act II plays out.

  • semicorrect

    Does anyone else find this timing strange? In 2010, Brian Windhorst waited until LeBron left to report that the Miami Heat probably broke tampering rules in recruiting him. He had the info for months, but the Cavaliers didn’t want him to report it. Now that LeBron is back in Cleveland, he reports info that was either relayed to him 4+ years ago (in which case he didn’t report Cavs news), during LeBron’s time in Miami (in which case he didn’t correct common falsehoods about LeBron), or in the last couple of days (in which case it’s awfully self-serving for those in LeBron’s camp).

    I don’t trust Windhorst’s reporting anymore. Beyond that, I don’t know what to make of this.

  • The_Real_Shamrock

    One more time you find something out years later isn’t it amazing. But this should just show how people shouldn’t jump to conclusions and make assumptions or better yet believe every thing they hear or read!

  • The_Real_Shamrock

    I don’t know how much investigating or research Windhorst actually does personally I think he’s in the same group with Broussard, Stein and the other “Twitter/reporters” I think they just regurgitate what they are told. They don’t compile what they hear, look into it, put the pieces together and then produce something. Instead because they are in a hurry and want to be the first one to “report” it they send out a Tweet. The problem is they Tweet so many things that eventually they get something or at least part right. The problem for them is how many times it took before they got something right. Long story short, credibility is extremely low.

  • The_Real_Shamrock

    They don’t have to “live” here they all have enough money they can jet anywhere at a moments notice. They just have to rent and spend a few winter months here. For the money and a chance at a title I think they can survive.

    Unlike the first time around James is proven he now has two championships that more then anything will get the attention of fellow players. Backed by Gilbert, who has shown for all his other shortcomings, that he will pay and pay well is a nice combination.

  • cmm13

    Wait, Brian Windhorst’s report on something to do with LeBron is wrong?

    get right out of town.

  • dwhit110

    I, like many, think a lot of this sounds like revisionist history at least to an extent (not that it really matters, but if they’re going to report it, I’m going to critique it). You’ve gotta wonder how potentially butt-hurt Windy is over losing the LBJ exclusive to SI, you’d think he’s been trying to set himself up as the guy that LeBron would trust to go to with stuff like that.

    Love the props for Ramona Shelburne, she’s been fantastic over the past 3 months.

  • simond

    so what’s gonna happen with Windy and the Heat Index on ESPN?

  • Backwoods

    Basketball isn’t a few months of winter, the season runs the entire length of winter in a town that is empty after 7pm. Gilbert is finding out that even a casino can’t pull a crowd in downtown.

    I’m thrilled that Lebron is back. I can finally quit watching the heat play. But let’s not lie to ourselves. If the Cavs are able to pull off 1 quality free agent, it’s gotta count as a huge win.

  • The_Real_Shamrock

    I still stick by what I said previously and I don’t think Gilbert is crying over his Casino business. Between the return of LBJ and that convention I think Gilbert will be just fine. I heard ticket sales particularly season tickets for the Cavaliers are going like hotcakes!

  • Harv 21

    It’s now the Windy-Chill Factor.

  • Pat Leonard

    It’s also absurd because Windy is contradicting himself! He often hinted at collusion between Bosh/Wade/James/Riley before he accepted the job with ESPN. He knows very well that the decision was made during 2008 while they were all playing for the USA team. It’s silly that he’s saying the opposite now.

  • mgbode

    I would hope that Act II was his time in Miami. Act III time in Cleveland, right?

  • mgbode

    Chicago will sue!!!

    Northcoast Barometer?
    Woolly Bear Predictor?

  • Steve

    I wonder if there’s any middle ground here. Maybe the idea for the three to play together came up in 2008, but was never guaranteed until that last minute? We’ll never know exactly, as this is the new “truth”, but I can see Lebron chumming it up with his team USA buddies about eventually all playing together, but when push came to shove about actually leaving Cleveland, it wasn’t so easy a decision.

  • Pat Leonard

    It’s possible, but I wouldn’t bet on it. I’d bet on collusion with Riley. I just remember Windy saying there was so much more to the story that he couldn’t print at the time.

  • Steve

    I’m very reluctant to use the “c” word, and especially invoke Riley. I’m sure Wade recruited the other two to come to the sunny beaches of Miami over winters in Cleveland and Toronto, but by-the-books collusion?

  • The_Matt_Of_Akron

    The Lake Effect?

  • mgbode

    Why wasn’t that Eric Snow’s nickname here?

  • mgbode

    and today, SI/Jenkins counters with an article that has more direct quotes from LeBron and area people (seems like with the help of LRMR). and, takes away the angle BW tried to play up above.

    it seems like B-Dubs may not be following LeBron back to the Northcoast as for whatever reason LeBron doesn’t seem happy with him.