Four people who helped organise LeBron James’ ill-fated special “The Decision” have spoken out about the days and hours leading up the the show.The big takeaway? With the luxury of hindsight, these people still believe in the arrogant, slanted logic that made the show such a public relations disaster in the first place.
Here are some of the most interesting quotes and revelations from their interviews with Sports Illustrated’s Zach Lowe:
- Mark Dowley was the special’s principle organiser and a former partner at the William Morris endeavour agency. He says the original idea was hatched by broadcaster Jim grey, WME CEO Ari Manuel, and LeBron’s manager Maverick Carter during the NBA Finals.
- LeBron stayed with Dowley at his house in Connecticut in the hours before and after the show. Dowley hired a police officer and a security guard for protection, and Kanye West came and stayed until LeBron flew to Miami later that night.
- Dowley on the backlash to the show, “A good deed never goes unpunish, you know? … I do know morally and from a socially conscience standpoint, they know they did something good.”
- More Dowley, “I’m fond of experimenting, and I’m proud of doing something different.”
- Dowley on what he thought when we first heard about the idea for the show, “I like the whole notion of the emancipation of talent.”
- The event was held in Greenwich, CT for a few reasons. They didn’t want it have it in Cleveland for LeBron’s safety. They didn’t want to ruin the surprise by going directly to a contending city. And as Dowley says (apparently with a straight face), “It always struck me that here we are in [Greenwich], one of the most affluent communities in the world, and we have a terrible gym at the Boys & Girls Club. I thought we could help them out.”
- The location of the show was originally supposed to remain a secret until the end of the broadcast. But once Dowley informed the Greenwich police about the event, it leaked to Newsday.
- The broadcast made between $3.5 million and $4 million in ad revenue. The money was split evenly between Boys & Girls Clubs in every contending city, plus Greenwich.
- Connecticut state legislator Scott Frantz, who helped connect Dowley to the Greenwich Boys & Girls Club, said about the show, “The only thing that was a letdown for me, as a Knicks fan, was the actual decision. We all sat there in shock that he wasn’t coming to New York.”
- You think the 10 minute wait at the beginning of “The Decision” was bad? LeBron was originally supposed to wait until the very end of the show to announce his new team.
Dowley and the rest of the James camp continue to portray “The Decision” as an act of charity. But this argument represents a complete misunderstanding of the nature and function of the show.
The show was a colossal failure. It was narcissism masquerading as charity. It was an ill-conceived, insensitive stunt that used the Boys & Girls Club as an object of emotional exploitation and a shield against criticism.
This SI piece shoes how unaware and disconnected from reality Dowley and Co. still are. And that itself explains “The Decision” better than they ever could.
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