Kanye West dons sunglasses at "The Decision" to ensure no one sees his eyes close (Larry Busacca/ Getty).
Although it has since become one of the most controversial and widely hated events in recent NBA history, LeBron James's "The Decision" free agency special in July 2010 was a genuinely dramatic event. The particulars of the ESPN program were a little off-putting, but partially because it all seemed like window dressing to the news everyone wanted to hear. People were impatient to hear where James would take his talents.
At least one famous attendee was not so anxious to hear the news, apparently. According to a recent look inside the events from Courtney Cox, who worked "The Decision" as a studio stage manager for ESPN, Kanye West had trouble staying awake and chose to leave the scene before the end of the hour. From FanSided.com:
Issue No. 2 happened about 30 minutes before the show started. Most of the guests were seated, comprised of high-level execs primarily from Disney and the Boys and Girls Club. I didn’t know most of the people present, but one of the higher-level faces I did recognize approached me concerned. He asked me about which seats were taken and if we could get more. Nervous about shutting down someone that could get me fired, I played it safe and tried to dodge the awkward responsibility of assigning seats. He whispered softly, “Kanye West is here and I don’t know where to seat him.” [...]
So Kanye walks in with no entourage, just a couple of people, and now I’m thinking he’s either here because he was at the wedding rehearsal for Carmelo Anthony and LaLa, or he was the Chicago representative picked to show out when LeBron chose the Bulls. To this day, I’m still not sure why he was in the building.
I spend the first 15 minutes or so honed in on ‘Ye’s every move. He seems chill, he’s wearing his glasses indoors, and he’s not making sudden moves. I forget he’s there until one of the camera operators says, “I think Kanye West fell asleep.”
At the biggest non-sporting sports event in a while, Kanye West fell asleep before anyone announced anything. He was doing the church/school head nod and everything. Wake up, Mr. West.
He would eventually wake up and leave well before The Decision ended.
Photos from the day show that Kanye was in fact in attendance, although no one managed to snap one of him dozing off. Of course, it could be that doing so would have incurred the wrath of one of the most successful men in the music industry. Remember that if Courtney Cox (this writer, not the star of "Friends") becomes the target of a diss track later this month.
It may seem odd for Kanye to fall asleep during a dramatic event like "The Decision," but it's important to remember that he is a celebrity prone to extreme emotions. For him, the best basketball player in the world picking a new team might actually be a boring thing, particularly once he figured out that the majority of time would involve an irrelevant discussion between LeBron and Jim Gray. If I had the opportunity to go back to New York City for a private party at one of those clubs Stefon talks about, then I'd probably leave, too.
While this story will get the most attention, Cox's full piece is worth a read for its look inside the day's production. As LeBron's success in Miami begins to overshadow the circumstances that brought him there, it's worth remembering just how weird an event "The Decision" really was.
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- Kanye West
- LeBron James