The Decision 2.0
The way in which Cliff Lee handled his “Decision” to go to Philadelphia could have served as a model for LeBron James, were he given the opportunity to do it all over again.
Cliff Lee’s decision to leave Texas and join the Phillies draws undeniable parallels to the decision made by LeBron James to take his talents to South Beach. Both Lee and James left teams who have had a lack of historical success for teams who have had recent success. Both franchises that were left behind will struggle in the immediate future, trying to construct pieces in the absence of a transcendent superstar. Both went to teams where they would join forces with other top 5 athletes in their sport (i.e. Roy Halladay and Dwayne Wade). Both James and Lee accepted less lucrative contracts in order to reach what is (or at least should be) the ultimate goal of any professional athlete: to win a championship.
The public perception of the two men’s decisions has, however, been anything but parallel. Whereas Cliff Lee’s signing happened with no pomp or circumstance, LeBron’s warranted an hour long prime-time special. The news of Lee’s decision was broken overnight, with little fan fare until the morning and was done with an air of class and a complete lack of arrogance. Lee informed the other teams in contention for his services that they were not his final choice BEFORE he broke the story to any news outlet–what a concept! There will be no need for Cliff Lee to “accept his role as a villain,” because he has not alienated anyone in the sporting world. Where Cleveland has played the part of the sympathetic figure following LeBron’s departure, the Yankees are the ones who are being made to look foolish in not getting Lee, having not done enough to get their man.
There was no reason that the fallout of LeBron signing with the Heat (which was his absolute right, as a free agent) should have been so harsh. Had he only consulted with another former Clevelander, perhaps this could have all turned out very differently.