Given that LeBron James(notes) has had about two years to ponder his future – and a good four days to digest the sales pitches he heard from his six suitors – it would appear that he’s already reached a conclusion on where he plans to continue his career, even if he’s committed to keeping it secret until the nation tunes in.
Or maybe not.
One former confidant of James thinks the two-time MVP could still be wrestling with the decision. And James’ final answer, like so many of his shots, could come at the buzzer – or at least at the 9 p.m. ET start of his televised special.
“LeBron always waits until the last minute to make a decision. He always does,” said Chris Dennis, who used to run James’ charitable foundation. “I wouldn’t be surprised at all if he didn’t know until before the show.”
Dennis has known James since James was about 12 and is often credited for helping the NBA superstar get discovered nationally.
Dennis placed James on the 2000 AAU Oakland (Calif.) Soldiers team after his freshman year at Akron’s St. Vincent-St. Mary (Ohio) High School. Dennis showed basketball power broker Sonny Vaccaro a tape of James following his freshman year that led to his first appearance at the renowned ABCD Camp in 2001. Dennis also helped James get into the 2001 USA Basketball Youth Development Festival, during which James led his team to a gold medal.
After James joined the NBA, Dennis ran his foundation from 2003-07. During that time, Dennis said James wasn’t known for being decisive, a trait he perhaps picked up from the daily uncertainty he faced during a tough childhood.
“Growing up, living the life that he’s lived, his childhood experiences, decisions aren’t easy to make,” Dennis said. “I would always make decisions for him. I would ask him stuff like, ‘Why don’t we do this? Why don’t we do that?’ He said, ‘It’s cool.’ He never would say, ‘Yeah let’s do it.’ I would always tell him, ‘This is what I am going to do. If you don’t like it, let me know.’ ”
Dennis believes James has probably sought some advice from Nike Basketball senior director Lynn Merritt. He also thinks James’ personal manager Maverick Carter won’t hesitate to give his own suggestions. In the end, however, Dennis thinks James will make the final call on his own.
“People aren’t telling him, ‘LeBron you should do this, LeBron you should do that,’ ” Dennis said. “No one will tell him that except for Maverick. Everyone else, they feel for him. Like his boys, his real boys that played high school basketball with him, they ain’t making no suggestions. They just get out of the way. They are with him either way.
“Maverick, he has his own agenda. He’s going to suggest stuff. The crazy thing is LeBron knows he’s going to suggest stuff based on his own agenda, but he’s just going to roll with it. [James] may not say anything. He may just listen.”
Dennis doesn’t pretend to know what James will decide. But he does have his own opinion about what he should do.
“What he does will say a lot about who he is,” Dennis said. “If he goes somewhere else, he’s chasing a championship and money. If he stays, I see him going down as one of the greatest. It just says more about him as a person. I’m hoping he stays home. It seals his legacy.
“That ‘Loyalty’ tattoo he has – we’ll see if it means something.”