Almost 10 years after LeBron James announced his decision to play for the Miami Heat on a live ESPN show titled “The Decision,” the network revealed on Saturday that the idea for the show actually came from a fan.
A fan has long been rumored to have come up with the idea, as a person identified only as “Drew” from Columbus, Ohio, proposed the show in a column of mail portfolios published by then-ESPN writer Bill Simmons. That column was published on November 26, 2009, more than seven months before “The Decision” aired on July 8, 2010.
During the broadcast of “The Decision,” 25-year-old James infamously proclaimed, “I’m going to take my talents to South Beach,” an instant auction that endures in today’s world of sports. In fact, Drew’s reveal of Columbus comes as ESPN prepares to cast a glimpse of “The Decision” on Sunday night.
For a story released Saturday, ESPN contacted Drew, Drew Wagner, 38, who is actually a fan of the Detroit Pistons, and confirmed that the idea was his.
“That was me,” Wagner told ESPN in a phone interview on Friday. “I sent that email, Simmons posted it, and then, seven months later, it’s the most important story in sports.”
“I remember everyone talking about where LeBron would go, and it seemed to me that LeBron should do the same thing these kids do and announce it live on television,” added Wagner. “I used to really enjoy Simmons’ mail bags, and I thought it would be a fun idea to send them.”
Wagner’s opening speech had suggested a televised program called “Lebron’s Choice,” while Simmons proposed in his column that it be called “Decision 2010: LeBron’s Verdict.” Simmons emailed ESPN executives about the idea of televising James’ announcement in May 2010, but did not mention Wagner in that email.
At the time of “The Decision,” James was entering his eighth NBA season, having played the first seven in Cleveland. Despite being a six-time All-Star and leading the Cavaliers to the NBA Finals in 2007, the Akron, Ohio native became the No. 1 public enemy with most Cavs fans after ” The Decision “.
James would win two championships in Miami before returning to Cleveland and leading the Cavs to the NBA title in 2016, the first championship in club history.
He is in his second season with the Los Angeles Lakers after leaving Cleveland as a free agent for the second time after the 2017-18 season.