LeBron James (Forward): Cleveland Cavaliers
Possibly the NBA’s biggest star today (and drafted straight from high school), LeBron James, took the Cleveland Cavaliers to their most winning seasons and the NBA Finals for the first time in franchise history. He was a known high performer at the peak of his career, so what did the Cavaliers do to retain their top talent? Not enough. On July 8th, only minutes after informing the Cavaliers, James announced his 6’8” stature would fill a new #6 jersey to play for the Miami Heat. The criticism surged like the rising tides of a Miami hurricane. Cleveland fans burned James’ jerseys while Dan Gilbert, the majority owner of the team, publicly denounced his former player for his “cowardly betrayal.”4 Truly cavalier in nature, wall graphics of LeBron were reduced in price from $99.99 to $17.41 (Benedict Arnold’s birth year). In the wake of LeBron’s departure, Gilbert fired the head coach, and the general manager resigned. The Cavaliers went from a championship contender to losing 19 of their first 26 games. In a case where everyone lost, both Gilbert and James’ poor handling of the situation before, during, and after, illustrates how quickly ego gets in the way of creating the win-win.