June 20, 2012 · 0 Comments
People are still criticizing LeBron James for the hour-long TV special in the summer of 2010 when he announced he would leave Cleveland and “take his talents South Beach.”
But was it really such a bad decision?
Nearly two years later, James is more popular than ever.
So is the NBA.
Ratings of this year’s NBA Finals between James’ Heat and the Oklahoma City Thunder are averaging 16.1 million viewers, the highest viewership since 2001, when LeBron was 16 years old. Ratings on TNT are up 44 percent since James went to Miami, and the four highest rated games on the network involved the Heat. Regular season ratings on ABC and ESPN are also at all-time highs. Meanwhile Miami’s average home and road attendance went from 11th (at 17,898) to first (19,667) since James came to town.
James’s had the top selling jersey in 2011, the year after The Decision.
James is more powerful than before The Decision too, according to Forbes’ composite ranking of earnings and media exposure. James was the 15th most powerful celebrity in 2012, up from 28th in 2010.
He’s also raking in more money. Including salary and endorsements, James pulled in $53 million in 2011 according to Forbes, fourth among athletes. That’s $5 million more than he made in the pre-Decision year of 2009, according to Forbes, despite taking a salary cut to go to the Heat.
Searches for his name on Google went nuclear during the summer of The Decision, and they remain elevated now.