He’s ready for a new image, or the old likeable one he during his time with the Cleveland Cavaliers will do. So now nearly 18 months since the infamous “The Decision” telecast to announce he was leaving Cleveland and “taking [his] talents to South Beach,” James now says he regrets how he handled things.
The basketball star, who spent the first seven years with the Cavs before joining the Heat last season, sat down for a lengthy interview with ESPN’s Rachel Nichols where he discussed his now sullied image across the country where he is seen as a greedy and out-of-touch athlete.
"During my first seven years in the NBA I was always the liked one,” James said during in the interview. “To be on the other side, they call it the dark side, or the villain, whatever they call it... it was definitely challenging for myself. It was a situation I had never been in before. I took a long time to adjust to it. It didn't feel good. I was still living in Ohio and you could feel it. You don't even have to hear it. You can feel it."
James now says he regrets the whole made-for-TV-broadcast on ESPN where he crushed the city that had embraced him as its own since he was in high school in nearby Akron, Ohio.
"If I could look back on it I would probably change a lot of it,” he said. “The fact of having a whole TV special, and people getting the opportunity to watch me make a decision on where I wanted to play, I probably would change that. Because I can now look and see if the shoe was on the other foot and I was a fan, and I was very passionate about one player, and he decided to leave, I would be upset too about the way he handled it."
The problem James has is whether people will see his feeling of regret as genuine or if it will be seen primarily as an attempt to salvage his image. Clearly being seen as the bad guy had an adverse affect on him and his game last season.
"It basically turned me into somebody I wasn't,” James said at one point. “When you start to hear 'the villain,' now you have to be the villain. And I started to buy into it. I started to play the game of basketball at a level or in a mind state that I had never played at before. I mean angry. That's mentally, and that's not the way I play the game of basketball."
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