NBA / Jul 9, 2010 / 11:30 am

Top 10 Biggest Winners From “The Decision”

After taking in the reaction from the LeBronapalooza last night, you would think the world had ended. Cleveland fans seemed ready to march on South Beach and there were NBA GMs sending out betrayal notes like some lost lover. Did anyone profit from this (outside of those obvious drama setters from ESPN)?

Ultimately, LeBron did just make himself a lot of money, but does he make the list of the 10 biggest winners from Thursday night?

10. Kobe Bryant
Funny. Even though the Miami Heat are now immediate title contenders with a trio that rivals anything the NBA has ever seen, there is some guy out in L.A. who is watching. And waiting. And working out. Kobe used to be hated to no end. Despised. Now, LeBron has unknowingly catapulted this country’s love for the reigning Finals MVP. The Laker star just became The Man by default. Everything that LeBron represents – personified in this slobber on LeBronathon that concluded with him taking the “easy way out” – will do nothing but help Kobe. Love the move or hate it, all of the pressure shifts to Miami. You think New York City would’ve been the grandiose? Take the force of 8 million people in the Big Apple, multiply that by 38 and then stack the history books on top of that. Now, the entire country has expectations for The Chosen One: deliver the goods. The more chips Kobe can stack up from here on out will count double.

9. Heat’s Second Round Picks
Miami’s three second round draft picks – Dexter Pittman, Da’Sean Butler and Jarvis Varnado- now have pretty good job security. Pat Riley is probably warning them, “Basically, don’t blow out a knee or get arrested for vehicular manslaughter and you will be on the team.” With the max contract dollars being passed out like candy on Halloween, the Heat must fill out their roster with minimum salary players. The good thing for Heat fans is that Pittman, Butler and Varnado are solid second-round picks. If Pittman wasn’t overweight, he could’ve been a first-rounder. Butler has the requisite qualities needed to succeed as a career role player, despite the major knee injury. And Varnado has great potential as a shot-blocking specialist.

8. NBA Finals Ratings
The Heat has to be considered the favorites to make it out of the East. They have maybe the three best players in the whole conference. If they add some pieces like Mike Miller, it’s a formality. That’s not even discussing how the Heat will look in upcoming years. With the mid-level and bi-annual exceptions, they have a chance to build a monster. One of the largest beneficiaries of that will be those June ratings and David Stern.

If the Lakers and Heat match up in the Finals next June, the ratings will be astronomical. This year’s numbers (an 18.2 Game 7 rating) matched anything since MJ left in 1998. 2011 could put those digits on steroids. LeBron and Artest. Kobe and DWade. Gasol and Bosh. Riley and Jackson. Jack and Anna K/Enrique. So much firepower, so much celebrity, it has the potential to eclipse anything the NBA has seen since it was 1987 and it was Boston/L.A.

7. Mo Williams & Antawn Jamison
While the Cavs probably won’t win more than 20 games with their current roster – when some of your best players include Anthony Parker and Anderson Varejao, it’s a good indicator that success is out of reach – Williams and Jamison are in for big stat spikes. They are used to this, putting up large numbers on teams without any expectations and no future in place. They can’t expect many wins, but their numbers are definitely going to climb.

This is what happens when you build an entire team around one player’s game. LeBron got out just in time before the walls collapsed around him. Now, the Cavs are going to endure at least five or so years of loosing. No one is going to go there. Their team is stuck in eons of luxury tax. Kind of sad: LeBron built most of this. It wasn’t good enough, so he bounced.

6. Dwyane Wade
Wade doesn’t have anything to lose with this move. He’s proven himself as the only perimeter player outside of Bryant to lead a team to a title since MJ. Starting next season, Wade will slip right into the off-guard role on this team as its primary scorer. He won’t have to worry about his titles being tainted. Since LeBron is the one chasing Jordan and Kobe, chasing history, he’s the one who will have to bear the weight of expectations. Wade gets off easy.

This is as star-studded a team as the NBA has seen it a long time. But, it will be James’ head if they don’t reach expectations. It may not be fair, but that’s the way it works.

5. Delonte West
Cleveland will kill him if he ever goes back.

4. Michael Jordan
LeBron was the latest in a long line of disappointments. With this move, I think Money’s legacy as the game’s best ever is completely safe (only way that is debatable is if Kobe wins a few more rings). James was the one guy who seemed like he had a chance: a clean enough image, packaged in a mix of unprecedented skill and athleticism. If he had gone on to win a few titles for his hometown, LeBron would’ve had the chance to match Jordan at the top.

Now, he can’t win with this move. Any championship will be expected, almost a necessity. And if they don’t win? LeBron will become the greatest failure in the history of the League.

Jordan was drafted into a situation in Chicago in 1984 just as dire as Cleveland’s was in 2003. They were loosing money, had no fans and a history of loosing. But, he made the playoffs every year and gradually built the Bulls into a dynasty, overcoming the Detroit Pistons and L.A. Lakers along the way. He met every challenge. Last night reeked of something else.

3. Eastern Conference
Heat. Celtics. Magic. Hawks. Bulls. Bucks. It seems like the East might actually play some ball this year. Since Money left the Chicago scene, it’s been a West World with nine of the past 12 titles going to teams left of the Mississippi.

The West still claim the defending champs and numerous other loaded squads like the Nuggets, Mavericks and Blazers. But the trio of Miami, Boston and Orlando should make for quite an Eastern Conference playoff run. For once, the two conferences have finally evened out. Amar’e Stoudemire went east as did Carlos Boozer, bringing back the big men that have been absent since Shaquille O’Neal‘s departure in 1996. With LeBron sticking around to form a potential powerhouse, it brings the two conferences into balance. There are also teams like Washington, and particularly New York and New Jersey, that have promising futures with salary cap room and cornerstone players all because of LeBron’s presence as a free agent.

2. Micky Arison
According to the Positively Cleveland Convention and Visitors Bureau, every Cavalier home game with LeBron netted the team $3.7 million in revenue. Take that to South Beach, add in the lure of celebrity and partying, sprinkle in Bosh and Wade and who knows how much the Heat will profit from this?

Last season, the Heat was just 15th in the league in home attendance. That number is about to soar, as well as the team’s overall worth. Arison bought the franchise for just over $30 million back in the mid 1980’s. Miami’s net worth rose to $384 million during last season. Now with the game’s largest celebrity signing on, CNBC predicted in a recent article that James is worth $17.5 million to them during next season alone. The billionaire Arison must’ve slept easy last night.

1. Pat Riley
The mastermind genius does it again. For real, this dude is either really lucky or just smart as hell. No one believed it was possible- outsmarting every other GM in the League, including a Russian billionaire, to land the most prized free agent group in the history of the League. Remember 2000? That year saw the Orlando Magic attempt to trump the field by landing both Tim Duncan and Grant Hill. It never worked out. Normally, there’s just a combination of too many values – egos, contracts, shots, legacies, women, jersey numbers – to get so many great players on one boat. But, Miami has done it and they’ve done it with not two, but three max contract players.

Riley convinced Oklahoma City and Minnesota into coming along for the ride and now has every GM in the game saying, “What the hell do we do now?”

Riley just punk’d the NBA.

What do you think? Who are the biggest winners from last night?

Follow Sean on Twitter at @SEANesweeney.

Follow Dime on Twitter at @DIMEMag.

Become a fan of Dime Magazine on Facebook HERE.

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  • Jonas Bros

    You missed one. Actually, a pretty BIG one.

    The Houston Rockets 2011 & 2012 New York Knicks 1st Round Picks.- Without LeBron James at the helm and the picks unprotected beyond top-3 (2011) and top-1 (2012), Daryl Mroey is looking more and more like a genius with each passing second. Donnie Walsh is probably pulling out his hair as we speak.

  • http://www.letravel.com/lechoke BIGYAO

    yeeahhhhhhhhh morey is a genius rockets 2011 champ.Fuck lechoke like wade and bosh there good but queen james is going to fuck this team up period.

  • DTUCK

    Love the Kobe aspect of the article. I was thinking the same thing last night as I was watching Bron’s decision. Kobe somewhere peeping this, working out. As a die hard Laker fan, I say that was huge for MIA. It would be epic for us to beat them tho, and I can’t wait for that to happen. Lets just re-sign Fish, grab another big for the bench, and go to war.

  • KnicksFan84

    Not exactly Jonas. See IF the Knicks suck bad enough, we get to keep our top 3 or top 1 picks…. if we do well enough, sure you’ll get the picks but we would have accomplished what we wanted anyway in getting better.

    In reality we got a better lotto player in Anthony Randolph and Gallinari than what you have in Jordan Hill and PROBABLY anything else you’ll draft with our picks….

  • fallinup

    You forgot David Stern. His league just got the biggest shot in the arm since MJ sent a fax saying “I’m Back.”

  • Jonas Bros

    LeBron is going to be MIA in Cleveland next season (no pun intended)

    @KnicksFan84- Are you kidding? We gave you half-knee Tracy McGrady and we end up with those two 1st Round picks, Jordan Hill (top-8 pick, Hilton Armstrong, Jared Jeffries, and Kevin Martin. Not only that, Jared Jeffries is about to get turned into Tyson Chandler. I’m not exactly sure you understand the gravity of the situation here. With Amare Stoudamire minus David Lee, the Knicks are still a lottery team. With LeBron James, the team was most certainly a playoff team (even a Eastern Conference title contender)so those picks that we (Houston obtained) automatically doubled in value. You were looking at 2 late first round picks that are now essentially 2 lottery picks and you combine that with what we already have obtained from the Knicks. I’m sorry, but we just took candy from a baby. The Rockets have already have won out on this trade with whom we were able to obtain for 31-year old, half knee McGrady. The ONLY way the Rockets don;t benefit from the picks the next two years is if the Knicks finish with the WORST record in the league 2 years running and draw a top 3 pick this year and top 1 pick in 2012. as bad as the Knicks are, that is HIGHLY HIGHLY unlikely. Anthony Randolph? Are you kidding me? Next years draft is LOADED with talent. Do yourself a favor and go check out NBAdraft.net and maybe some youtube. Type in the names:

    Perry Jones
    CJ Leslie
    Josh Selby
    Harrison Barnes
    Kyrie Irving
    Brandon Knight
    Jared Sullinger
    …to name a few

    There is NO way the Rockets come out losers in this deal. The Knicks went into this deal witht he mindset of obtaining LeBron James, and they came up empty. It was an all-in move that back-fired. The only way the Knicks can salvage their roster moves is if they end up with Carmelo Anthony next year.

    Donnie Walsh just got Mind-F’ed by Morey. He isn’t the first and he certainly won’t be the last.

  • cov

    team isn’t more star studded then the 2004 lakers. that’s not that long ago.

  • http://www.paxtonavenue.com DGtheEnigma

    Okay, before “The Decision”, I was letting LeBron have it. Why would he go on national TV and rip Cleveland? Of course he was going back to Cleveland! And since he was going back to Cleveland, I thought he was being a diva for dragging six teams along publicly. I thought he was trying to get one more big media push — ESPN, twitter, new website — cause he would be in a small market for the next three years. Ego run amok.

    But…

    After watching “The Decision”, and his announcement for heading to Miami, I totally have a different outlook on LeBron — in a good way. His reason for this is flat out winning. No pundit spin, former non-champions (I’m looking at you C-Webb, Reggie Miller, Charles Barkley), and pissed off owners can make me view this any differently. LeBron said it best last night, “I never thought it was possible…” This is unprecedented.

    Sure, Jerry West convinced Shaq to join Kobe (and other greats before then too), but never three athletes all in their respective primes joining forces for nothing more than winning. LeBron has put his apirations for becoming a billionaire to shreads with this decision. He will take a big PR hit momentarily, he will take less money, and commit long term all because he believes Miami has the best all around organization — not simply the best three players — to compete at the highest level during his prime.

    How many times have we witnessed great players squander their primes by staying with an organization that they know just doesn’t have the DNA of a championship team?

    There is no way I’m roasting an athlete for wanting to do the one thing the game is all about at this level…WIN.

  • KWAME

    chris bosh is not a super star haha…wow he is so lucky

  • http://dimemag.com Sean Sweeney

    @Jonas Bros It goes deeper though. The Knicks have a ton of flexibility now to go out and get someone like a Tony Parker or Carmelo Anthony. Yes, the whole point of all of this was to get LeBron. But, New York has a solid foundation with room to grow between this year and into next summer.

    Plus, look at the East. 6 definite playoff teams: Heat, Celtics, Magic, Bulls, Hawks, Bucks. The rest of the conference is wide open. Charlotte is the next best team at this point. You don’t think the Knicks can make the playoffs over teams like Indiana, Toronto and Washington?

    Houston made out with the trade, but I don’t think it is a franchise wrecker. Knicks are on the right track.

  • http://dimemag.com Sean Sweeney

    @cov That LA team was Shaq/Kobe and 2 end-of-the-road superstars…this is an entirely different situation.

  • http://twitter.com/anthonyeladjo abpin

    did someone just say jared jeffries is gonna be a tyson chandler?

  • http://twitter.com/WBandoy Jay Bandoy

    Maybe I’m being a grammar nazi, but is it ‘losing’ as opposed to ‘loosing’ in #7 and twice in #4?

    Awesome read regardless though. So happy I’m following @DimeMag. Keep up the good work.

  • Jonas Bros

    @Sean Sweeney: True, the the Knicks are more flexbile with cap room, but signing Amare Stoudamire and then inevitably losing David Lee seems counter-productive. The whole point of the Knicks clearing cap and roster space was to obtain LeBron James with the Tracy McGrady deal. In that respect, the Knicks failed, and failed miserably.

    You mentioned 6 teams that are certainly better than the Knicks (“definite playoff teams”) which leaves the Knicks fighting hard for the last two spots in the East. While Amare Stoudamire is an All-Star caliber player, a big reason for that is because he was the product of a certain system (Phoenix Suns offense) and also the beneficiary of arguably the best play-maker in the league in Steve Nash. Now, I’m skimming over the Knicks current roster and I don’t see a player that even comes close to spelling Steve Nash. The only thing the Knicks have going for them is that Mike D’Antoni is the coach, but let us not forget that D’Antoni and Amare didn’t exactly part on great terms. If things don’t go well for the Knicks or I should say, go Amare’s way, I can see this marriage being relatively short-lived.

    With the roster that the Knicks have, yes I do believe iit’ll be a struggle for the team to make the playoffs. As you have mentioned after those 6 definite playoff teams you have the Bobcats slated as the next best team which brings the total count to 7, which leaves exactly ONE playoff spot to be desired by the following teams:

    Knicks
    Wizards
    76ers
    Pacers
    Pistons
    Nets
    Raptors

    Looking over that list of teams, I can honestly say that YES, the Knicks will have trouble dealing with even aforementioned teams. Hypotehtically speaking, even if the Knicks were better than Washington, Toronto, and Indiana, you are ignoring the fact that you still have to deal with the 76ers (who just picked up Evan Turner and has a up-and-coming player in Jrue Holiday), the Pistons (whom though are aging have a very solid core and with the addition of Greg Monroe are certainly looking to improve on last year’s surprising/disappointing results) and the Nets (whom have seemingly made very nice draft day additions in Damion Jones, who is killin’ it in the summer league, and Derrick Favors, recently signed Travis Outlaw, and new Russian Billioanaire Owner-Extraordinaire), and you see why I, as a Houston Rockets fan. am smiling from ear-to-ear.

    There is absolutely, positively, no way the Rockets came up on the shorter end of the stick. It is going to be a struggle for the Knicks to even make into the Playoffs and IF they are unable to obtain Carmelo Anthony next season, then you can thank Daryl Morey for that.

  • daghost

    da ghost has spoken,
    DGtheenigma you are correct! very good argument!

  • daghost

    PS: i officially have a man crush on pat riley. Dude was born a genius…

  • muteant

    someone needs to familiarize sean on the distinction between “lose” and “loose.”

    not that this is necessarily within the scope of the article, but the following teams in the western conference have got to be happy with the way this post-season turned out: thunder, spurs, mavericks, trailblazers, nuggets. what was once an eight-team clusterf*ck just became a little more reasonable. suddenly the thunder might not be too young, the spurs suddenly might not be too old, the mavericks might be able to just stay pat, the blazers’ talent might just be enough, and the nuggets, well, they’re never going to win a championship, but at least they’ll be in the mix. of course, they all need to catch up with the lakers somehow, but hell, three-peatin’ ain’t easy.

  • Spliff 2 My Lou

    @abpin

    I think he was referring to the rumor that Jeffries will be traded to Charlotte for Chandler.

  • LMNOP

    sayin the east got better is kinda off, the Cavs were a 60 win team and championship favorite, theyll struggle for 15 wins this year and are the heat going to top 60 wins in their first season?

    i like the kobe bit tho, you know hes salavating at the thought of taking these dudes on.
    If the Lakers win the chip this year does Kobe go down in history on some Luke Skywalker taking down the empire type shit.
    Kobe used to be the bad guy, but now its reversed an the league needs him kill the three headed beast.
    Or is he still the bad guy, an the good guys all had to team up like the Justice League to take him out.

    the crazy thing is, with all this fuss people are forgetting that
    Bynum > whoever the heat can afford
    Gasol > Bosh
    RonRon aint as good as Bron, but can definitely guard him
    Kobe > Wade
    Fish/Blake > whoever the heat can afford
    Odom > whoever the heat can afford
    PJ > eric or riles it dont matter.

    as for the Knicks, as a Knicks fan, they are still in a better situation than they have been in a long time. they can start adding talent and building a team on solid foundations. yeah giving up Hill and Draft picks looks foolish now, but it had to be done at the time.

  • Spliff 2 My Lou

    Ha ha at loosing. Come on Sean that’s an elementary level grammar mistake. Once it’s an accident. Three times it’s retarded.

  • H-Man

    Jim Gray was a big winner just by getting the airtime. He was brought out of mothballs to conduct the interview and once again showed the world why he is simply the worst TV sports interviewer of modern times.

  • mules

    You forgot Kevin Durant. Dude came out looking like the classiest guy in the league with the humble, non-attention-whorish way he announce his deal. BTW, some people remember Kobe’s ’07 trade demand…he’s still a whiney little bitch.

  • Official

    @DGtheEnigma

    Yo you right my dude, can’t fault the guy for putting himself into the best position to win. I’m glad I wasnt the only one who saw the non-champs comment on how they think Lebron made a bad decision and it would mess up his legacy. They were all great players, but Lebron don’t wanna be like them, ringless… He did all he could to make Cleveland a contender, he took the team on his back in 07 when they had no business being in the Finals. So I think you need to put LBJ on the Top 10 list as well…. Peace

  • HEAT101

    @LMNOP

    YOU ARE A TRUE HATER BRO…

  • Murdog

    Winner… Tom Izzo… for NOT taking the Cavs coaching job…

  • Marc

    A couple of mistake in this article. First, MJ did not make the playoffs every year. In fact, I believe the Bulls remained a lottery team for his first couple of years. Second, you forgot to mention Oklahoma City as a force in the West. IMO they are by far the 2nd best team in the West with perhaps the 2nd best player in the league (behind Kobe). As it stands now, OKC is a much better team than Miami.

  • http://www.thebushreport.com Steve Bush

    Nice article. James loses in this just like you say. No matter the outcome, Bron-Bron has forever tarnished his legacy. Check out my analogy here: http://thebushreport.com/2010/07/09/an-open-letter-to-fans/

  • DJERA

    No matter how many championships they(Heat) win, its Dwades team.. he will have one more ring than Lebron or Bosh.. btw what has Bosh done??? made the All Star team? on top of all that.. Lebron will never be mention as one of the greatest players now no matter how many ships they win.. Hes gon need bosh and wade to win one.. Jordan was drafted by Chicago and made Chicago.. 6 ships and thats cuz of Jordan.. Kobe drafted by the lakers in 96 and shaq came to the lakers in 95, so who was kobe then??? then there was the talks of kobe not being able to do it without shaq, well whos pau gasol? very underated non superstar player who played for the Grizzlies who is now a superstar and maybe the best center/forward in the game.. where does that leave lebron in that topic of best of all time? i beleive its going to hurt him.. if he would of stayed in Cleavland or joined the knicks and won ships with those teams he could had been talked about one of the best. Now? i dont know.

  • e

    i will never respect lebron james as a basketball player he just showed the world he doesnt have the competitiveness or will to carry a team on his shoulders so he got 2 more stars to do it with him he is forever a sucker in my mind you think jordan would have left the bulls after losing to the bad boys all them years you think bird wouldve left the magic or magic leaves the lakers no they were dedicated and got it done this is pathetic and that hour long special was a joke

  • e

    anything lebron does with the heat has an asterisk next to it he will forever be known as a good player kobe is the last great one of this era

  • Roman

    @Sweeney- please. Kobe’s been the man, its just that you where so far up in the Kings whoo hoo you couldnt see it.

  • Stormbringer

    Sounds like 2011 Miami Heat is “too big to fail” HAHAHAHAHAHAHA

    GO LAKERS!!!

  • Levon

    You Laker fans need to brush up on your ball history. No team since the Celtics in the 60s have been to 4 straight NBA finals. The Lakers aren’t 3peating. They’ve already been to the finals 3 in a row. Won twice. Hate to break it to you

  • dimemagreader

    Kevin Durant is a big winner. He’ll be the scoring champ for years to come now.

    Also Kobe doesn’t have to worry about LBJ touching his legacy. The greatest players in the game don’t pull a bitch move and hop aboard a team stacked with superstars. It doesn’t matter how many rings Princess wins in Miami, he took the easy, bitch way out

  • dawut

    “They were loosing money,”

    Seriously DIME, get a f****** proofreader

  • D-Money

    Sean Sweeney needs to learn the difference between lose and loose.

  • InglewoodHood

    If Bynum could ever stay healthy the Lakers would really be scary! Bynum hobbled through the playoffs barely jumping, with few minutes of playing time. When healthy, 20 and 10 with blocks and changed shots. He is young so I pray he can find a way to keep his knees strong through a whole season. That and Odom realizes his potential and I have no fear of Miami. It will be interesting to see if the egos will be able to play with one ball there. Lebron did tarnish his legacy! Even though I am not a celtic fan, they will be just as good next year signing Pierce, Allen and Jermaine Oneal, till Perkins heals and Rondo will just get better. So, it will be interesting to see them and Miami fight it out and wear each other out till one of them meet the Lakers again in the playoffs!

    Side note: celtics beat the Lakers without Bynum or Ariza 2 years ago. We beat them with a 30% Bynum and they had Perkins till the end!

  • K Dizzle

    LMaO @ “Jim Gray was a big winner just by getting the airtime. He was brought out of mothballs to conduct the interview and once again showed the world why he is simply the worst TV sports interviewer of modern times.”

    LOL Great post

    @ LEVON – what the phuck are you even talkin about?
    You just compared the past to the future…
    “No team since the Celtics in the 60s have been to 4 straight NBA finals”
    So that means the favorite team to come outta the west won’t make it for a 4th straight year? huh? Records are made to be broken, son.
    Laker fans don’t need to brush up on “history” since we lookin to the future. Maybe you need to wipe down your crystal ball. Thanks for your OPINION tho.
    Your logic is just……WOW

  • KnicksFan

    Knicks will make the playoffs as the 7th seed.
    And Durant is a winner in this.. he will get at least 3 MVPs from this. Lebron will never get another one…He could have had 7 straight. But being plan B in Wade county its hard to say he’s a MVP

  • davester

    Biggest winner is Derrick Rose. With no LeBron to share the ball, DRose can do whatever he wants. And finally has the chance to show what kind of leader he is.

  • ronnell

    Love the kobe part. For the past 2 to 3 years everyone said LeBron had surpassed kobe. Now we all have seen that Prince James cannot carry the pressure of being the lead guy to win a title. No matter how many titles he wins wade is going to be the #1 man on the team. I know kobe is back in L.A. training and laughing he is and will be the man of the league until he hangs his kicks up for good.

  • doug mcnair

    It’s hard to believe how some of these basketball “experts” ignore the truth. The cleveland cavaliers’ owner Dan Gilbert never tried to bring top quality players there to help Lebron win a championship. Mo Williams, Levonte West, Antwon Jamison, Shaquille O’Neal, Anthony Parker and various other mediocre players. Name one player out of that bunch who other teams would jump at the chance to get. Gilbert was only interested in filling seats. He left Lebron no choice.