Reporting Tim Kephart
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MIAMI (CBSMiami.com) – Friday will mark the one-year anniversary of the decision that shook the South Florida sports scene, and the NBA to the core. It was a simple declaration from one player that fundamentally altered the NBA landscape, and brought basketball back to the top in South Florida.
“I’m going to take my talents to South Beach and join the Miami Heat,” LeBron James said during a made-for-television announcement on ESPN called “The Decision.”
It gave credence to the Miami Heat organization’s complete trust in president Pat Riley. It gave hope to an area desperate for sports success. And, with one decision, it changed the NBA’s power structure and put the Heat at the top of the pile.
After LeBron, Dwyane Wade, and Chris Bosh united to form the Big Three of the Miami Heat, other players sought to do the same thing. The most notable example was Carmelo Anthony holding the Denver Nuggets hostage until they traded him to the New York Knicks.
But for South Florida, The Big Three finally gave the area a winning team to get behind. The Heat proved that they wanted to win, they were willing to spend big to win, and they had the ability to go out and put the best team together they possibly could.
It was a far cry from the mediocrity of the Miami Dolphins, the constant struggle of the Florida Panthers, and the constant also-ran Florida Marlins. All of those franchises have struggled, with the Dolphins not having won a championship since the early 1970’s.
But LeBron’s decision gave the Heat, South Florida’s most successful franchise in the last several years, the penthouse view over sports in South Florida.
In the NBA, the decision by LeBron put owners on notice that player’s could manipulate the situation to put together a squad that could compete with anybody. It also put owners on notice that they have to spend to get the big players.
For some, the Decision gave the owners even more impetus to try to impose their will on the players during the current NBA collective bargaining stalemate. But the truth about the lockout is the owners have been bent on that since long before the decision was ever made.
After a season that came within just two games of an NBA Championship, Riley and the Heat were set to return to the drawing board to fill-out some of the key spots in the roster. And for the Heat, with LeBron, Bosh, and Wade essentially signed to four-year contracts, the Heat can waste no time.
While there will be other free agent signing periods and big name free agents signing with other teams, LeBron’s decision and the feat pulled off by Pat Riley and the Heat will forever be the one moment in NBA history that the best player in the league changed the game forever.