LeBron James’ free agency during the 2014 offseason ended with one of the most seminal moments in sports history, as James chose to spurn the Miami Heat and return to his hometown Cleveland Cavaliers.
James announced that decision with his now famous “I’m Coming Home” essay in Sports Illustrated, which he co-wrote with Lee Jenkins.
But, before that essay was published, no one knew where James was going to sign, not even his best friend and former teammate, Dwyane Wade.
And in Brian Windhorst and Dave McMenamin’s new book “Return of the King,” it’s revealed that James edited drafts of that essay while on a plane with an oblivious Wade, according to NBC Sports’ Dan Feldman.
“After watching the afternoon sessions of his camp, James went to McCarran International Airport and boarded a Nike-owned jet,” Windhorst writes, as transcribed by Feldman. “Its destination was Miami, and Wade joined him on the flight, which had been previously arranged as he got a ride back home.
“Two days later, on Saturday, he was scheduled to go to Rio de Janeiro for the conclusion of the World Cup as part of a Nike promotion. On the plane were Nike personnel, some of James’s staff, and Wade. As the plane traveled east and night fell, James reviewed and made some changes to Jenkins’s first draft. But Wade was still not told.
“You can’t ask Dwyane to carry that (secret),” (Rich) Paul said. “He couldn’t. It would’ve put him in a terrible position.”
Everything worked out for James, as he and Wade remain good friends to this day, and he brought Cleveland a championship when the Cavaliers defeated the Golden State Warriors in the 2016 NBA Finals.
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