Revisiting Stephen A. Smith’s “Big Three To Miami” Report and The Subsequent Ridicule

With Friday’s news that LeBron has officially become an unrestricted free agent, no better moment to look back at where we were this time eight years ago during LeBron’s first free agency sweepstakes that culminated with his infamous televised “Decision” to announce that he would be signing with Miami.

Near the end of June 2010, rumors were rampant about LeBron’s potential destination, but, taken as a whole, the reports did not have any specific direction. While the Heat were rumored to be in the mix to sign James, they seemed to be a distant third to the Bulls and the Knicks. However, the chase started to pick up on Sunday evening, June 27, when the New York Times reported that “an executive of one of the teams in the hunt” thought it was a “done deal”  that LeBron and Chris Bosh, also a free agent, would be signing with Chicago.

The New York Times report, coupled with the substantial LeBron-to-Chicago buzz that had been generating throughout the previous month, seemed to squarely push the momentum in the Bulls’ favor.  That is, until  the following day when a Stephen A. Smith report changed everything. On that Monday morning, Stephen A., who was no longer at ESPN after his contract wasn’t renewed in 2009, reported on his then Fox Sports Radio morning radio show, The Stephen A. Smith Show, that LeBron, Chris Bosh and Dwayne Wade (also a free agent) had all decided to sign with the Heat.

Here’s Stephen A’s tweet about the news:

Most people weren’t buying Stephen A’s report, and he was mercilessly clowned by folks in the media, including his former colleague and then ESPN-employee Bill Simmons.

Stephen A. proceeded to make media rounds discussing his scoop, and the skepticism persisted. However, when Chris Broussard and Mark Stein, both with ESPN at the time, reported late that night that James, Bosh, and Wade, all met in Miami over the weekend to discuss teaming up in Miami, things became very interesting.

The next day, Bosh and Wade’s agent, speaking to the Miami Herald, denied the report of the Bosh, Wade, and James Miami “summit,” and then local Miami media personality Jorge Sedano (now with ESPN), wrote a blog post in the Miami Herald with a detailed summary of Dwyane Wade’s itinerary during the week and concluded that the summit could not have happened in Miami because Dwyane Wade wasn’t in town, but it could have happened in Vegas.

Another summit denial:

After the denials from the Bosh and Wade, skeptics went in on ESPN, including then former, soon-to-be-future-and-later-back-to-former, ESPNer Jason Whitlock:

Whitlock proceeded to back off:

Others did not:

Broussard pointed out that the players were denying that the Miami meeting happened because it could be considered tampering:

Later that night, Broussard and Stein updated their report and doubled down, sticking with the story that the summit in Miami did happen.

“A modified version of the ballyhooed free-agent summit that was initially suggested and then downplayed by Dwyane Wade has indeed taken place, ESPN.com has learned.

Sources close to the situation said Monday night that three of the biggest names in basketball — Wade, Chris Bosh and LeBron James — met over the weekend in Miami to seriously discuss their futures, with a focus on the increasingly plausible possibility of those three teaming up with Wade’s Heat.”

The Stephen A. clowning continued:

By the middle of the week, LeBron had started to meet with specific teams to hear their pitches. While there were still questions about where LeBron would sign for the remainder of the process, one certainty is that the Stephen A. Smith report shifted the momentum in the sweepstakes.  What was once considered an afterthought became a real possibility once Smith went live with his report. And, a week or so later, when LeBron announced on ESPN that “he would be taking his talents to South Beach” to play with Wade and Bosh, Stephen A. must have had the last laugh. Whether the Broussard/Stein reported summit in Miami ever occurred is still a mystery.  However, according to Brian Windhorst, then a reporter with the Cleveland Plain Dealer, the idea of the three playing together had been in the works for a while, and “was anything but a last-minute decision by James.”

This now begs the question: when Stephen A. goes on First Take and reports that his sources are telling him Dan Gilbert wants to sell the CavsLeBron is texting Kevin Durant about playing together in LA, or any other seemingly head-scratching possibilites, should we stop and think for a second about the time that he beat everyone to the biggest NBA scoop of the decade? Just saying. Putting it out there. Up to you.

(Top Photos- Left Photo:ESPN Images, Right Photo: Miami Herald)

Fred Segal is an attorney from West Palm Beach, FL. He operates the popular Freezing Cold Takes Twitter account (@OldTakesExposed) which highlights, among other things, hilarious unprophetic and inaccurate takes and predictions. 

You can follow Freezing Cold Takes on Facebook here, and Instagram here (username: freezingcoldtakes).

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