Four years ago, LeBron James brought forth the decision on ESPN and took his talents to South Beach. Now here we are again, except with LeBron having established himself as the unquestioned best basketball player in the world and with two championships and four consecutive NBA Finals appearances behind him. If anything, this year’s decision is even bigger. Given the weakened status of the Eastern Conference, if LeBron goes to Cleveland then the Cavs will probably be in the Finals next season, and if he stays in Miami then the Heat will probably be there. And once more LeBron’s decision seems to have boiled down to the Cavs or the Heat. So how should he announce this time?
After all, the way LeBron announced his decision four years ago — coupled with a celebration with Dwyane Wade and Chris Bosh in Miami — left James the brunt of incredible criticism and disdain. Four years later, many fans have still not forgiven LeBron. (Which is absurd beyond belief, by the way, when you consider what other athletes have been forgiven for. It’s not like LeBron was charged with a felony for taking his talents to South Beach). What’s more, that reaction was four years ago, before social media had become a roiling mass of anger and discord. You thought the social media seas were angry in 2010, you ain’t seen nothing yet.
So how should LeBron announce this year’s decision? Here are my eleven suggestions along with the three best suggestions I received on Twitter.
1. Tell Rob Lowe your decision before anyone else and ask him to tweet it.
The only thing better than the attention Rob Lowe received for tweeting he believed Peyton Manning would retire would be if Rob Lowe tweeted where LeBron was headed based on a source. (LeBron himself.) No one would believe him. And then he would be right. This would be kind of like when the Rock broke the news on Twitter that we’d killed Osama bin Laden.
Alternatively, if LeBron wanted to totally crush Rob Lowe, he could tell him his choice and then do the opposite. Reading Rob Lowe’s mentions after he was wrong again would be great fun.
2. Tweet, “Hey, Dan Gilbert, remember this?” and attach the letter Gilbert wrote when LeBron left.
Then add, “Gotcha again! Staying in Miami.”
3. In a televised special that raises millions of dollars for underprivileged children.
I mean, no one could ever criticize an athlete for raising millions of dollars for charity, right? No one.
4. Light Lake Erie on fire again, douse the flames and walk across the water — on a floating dock that no one can see — to the city of Cleveland.
Bathe in adulation.
Or make the greatest heel turn ever by doing all this and then announcing you’re staying in Miami.
5. Post a picture on Instagram with the line, “Keeping my talents here.”
Would Instagram crash as everyone tried to open the image at the exact same time? Instead of picking a popular place in either Miami or Cleveland, pick a relatively unknown location or street that has significance to you. Imagine the Internet sleuthing that would ensue.
6. Hire an airplane banner, fly it over Cleveland with the simple phrase, “I’m back.”
Can you imagine the social media uproar? Was it it really LeBron? Was it a prank? Then it turns out to be true. Spectacular.
Plus, Jordan used the same phrase when he came back out of retirement and it’s still the greatest press release of all time.
7. Jim Gray lifts his shirt to reveal either Heat or Cavs painted on his chest.
8. Post a photo of Moses Cleaveland or Juan Ponce De Leon.
These are the respective founders of Cleveland and Miami. No one would have any idea what was going on initially and the Twitter firestorm would be great.
9. Place a Cavs and Heat hat on the table high school recruit style.
Rather than putting on the hat of the team you choose, burn the Cavs hat.
10. Ask Peyton Manning to manage the roll-out of your decision and do exactly what he says.
Sure, it’s boring, but LeBron would leave this decision as the favorite to win the Democratic and Republican presidential nomination in 2016.
11. Tweet: “Not one, not two, not three, four more years in Miami.”
Making fun of yourself is endearing. This would be one of the most retweeted moments in Twitter history.
The three best suggestions from Twitter. (This final one is pure genius, it wins):