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Basketball

LeBron James’ ‘The Decision’ was actually a fan suggestion submitted to Bill Simmons

One of LeBron James’ most controversial moments of his career came in 2010 when he made “The Decision” on live TV.

If you don’t remember, James was arguably the greatest free agent in NBA history. After playing seven seasons in Cleveland, he became an unrestricted free agent and was weighing his options on where he’d play next. But instead of a simple announcement, he hosted a 75-minute show that aired on ESPN, where he announced his NBA future and answered questions about his move.

But it turns out the idea wasn’t entirely his.

An ESPN documentary series titled “Backstory” focused on “The Decision” revealed the idea actually came from a fan who thought of it and sent the idea to ESPN’s Bill Simmons. The idea was posted in a mailbag column on Thanksgiving day in 2009. At the time, the fan was simply known as Drew from Columbus, Ohio. But ESPN’s documentary identified him as Drew Wagner.

Here’s Wagner’s full pitch to Simmons:

You know how when top recruits in basketball or football make their college decision, they often call a press conference and put the three hats of the schools that made the final three in front of them … then pick up the hat of the school of choice and put it on? What if LeBron announces he will pick his 2010-11 team live on ABC on a certain date for a show called “LeBron’s Choice?” What type of crazy ratings would that get?

Simmons’ response showed he clearly loved the idea as he responded, “Regardless, you’re right — this should be a televised event. If LeBron were smart, he would market the event through his company, sell the rights to a network and reveal his choice on that show. … If people were willing to pay $44.99 for a UFC 106 card headlined by Jenna Jameson’s washed-up husband fighting a guy who hadn’t won in two years, I’m pretty sure they’ll pony up $44.99 for ‘Decision 2010: LeBron’s Verdict.'”

According to Don Van Natta Jr., who worked on “Backstory,” Simmons pitched the mailbag column idea to James’ inner circle and ESPN executives in February 2010. 

From Van Natta Jr.:

At the All-Star Game weekend in Dallas in February 2010, Simmons pitched the “LeBron’s Decision” idea to James’ business partner, Maverick Carter; James’ agent at the time, Leon Rose; and James’ advisor, William “World Wide Wes” Wesley. Simmons met with Rose and Wesley. “They both loved it,” Simmons later wrote in an email. “I mean, LOVED IT.” He also had a separate meeting with Carter. That weekend, Simmons enthusiastically pitched the idea to several senior ESPN executives.

Natta has more details on the how the event eventually came together.

As for Wagner, he didn’t know for sure if his letter to Simmons made an impact or not. Simmons did all of his work behind the scenes, so there was really no way of knowing for sure. But he told ESPN he had an idea all along.

“I always had in the back of mind that maybe I did kick this into some kind of gear,” Wagner said. “I don’t think I deserve anything from it or any credit. I’m sure plenty of people could have come up with that kind of idea and got the ball rolling. I’m also pretty sure some people would want to shoot the guy who came up with the idea.”

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Soccer

Barcelona stars have bust-up with Quique Setien after Celta Vigo draw

Barcelona stars ‘involved in furious bust-up with under-fire coach Quique Setien after Celta Vigo draw’ with players ‘unhappy at decision to bring on Antoine Griezmann and Arthur Melo’

  • Barcelona suffered a painful 2-2 draw with Celta Vigo on Saturday afternoon
  • The result allowed Real Madrid to go top of La Liga with just six games to play
  • The Catalan side’s players clashed with manager Quique Setien after the game
  • The players complained about tactical decision by the Barcelona head coach 

Barcelona players were involved in a dressing room bust-up with under-fire manager Quique Setien following their 2-2 draw with Celta Vigo on Saturday.

The Catalan club twice surrendered leads away at relegation-threatened Celta which allowed Real Madrid to leapfrog them to the top of the La Liga table after they edged past Espanyol on Sunday night.

Uruguayan forward Luis Suarez, who scored twice in the disappointing draw, told reporters after the game that the club’s coaches were to blame for Barcelona’s poor away form, which has seen them pick up just two wins from their last six games on the road. 

Barcelona players were involved in a changing room bust-up after a 2-2 draw with Celta Vigo

The players voiced their disapproval at manager Quique Setien’s tactical decisions in the game

But, according to Spanish news outlet Marca, the frustration spilled into the changing rooms, with some of Barcelona’s playing staff criticising Setien’s tactical decisions throughout the match.

The most notable area of complaint from the playing staff was Setien’s decision to bring on Antoine Griezmann for two-goal hero Suarez with just under ten minutes to play.

In addition, Setien brought off promising youngster Riqui Puig for Juventus-bound Arthur Melo with four minutes left which further angered some of the Barcelona players.

Marca report that this is not the first time the Barcelona players have clashed with Setien on matters surrounding tactical decisions, leading to a growing lack of harmony between manager and squad.

Reports claim there is a clear lack of harmony between players and the coach at the club

One of the complaints was the choice to bring on Antoine Griezmann (right) for Luis Suarez

Barcelona took a first-half lead through Suarez’s 20th minute strike, but were pegged back five minutes after the break through Russian Fyodor Smolov’s equaliser. 

Suarez re-established the Catalan side’s lead a little over 15 minutes later with a smart turn and finish, but a late free-kick leveller by former Liverpool man Iago Aspas in the 88th minute meant the points were shared. 

After the match, Suarez was quick to point the finger at those responsible for giving away the two leads.  

Suarez (front) had twice given Barcelona the lead against Celta Vigo on Saturday afternoon

But a late leveller from Iago Aspas (right) earned Celta a draw and knocked Barca off top spot

When asked why Barcelona had dropped points again away from home, he said: ‘I think that’s why coaches are there, to analyse those situations. We’re there to do our best on the pitch. 

‘Away from home, we’re dropping important points that we didn’t usually drop in other seasons.’ 

One of the reasons why Setien’s predecessor, Ernesto Valverde, was sacked in January was due to a poor away form and the inability to keep clean sheets on the road. 

Meanwhile, a first-half strike from Casemiro saw Real Madrid replace Barcelona at the top of the Spanish top-flight with six games to play.

Barcelona’s will host Atletico Madrid at the Nou Camp next as they look to make up the two-point gap between them and their fierce rivals Real.




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Soccer

Manchester City vs Liverpool WILL be played at the Etihad

Liverpool’s potential title-clincher against Manchester City WILL  take place at Etihad Stadium next Thursday despite initial safety concerns

  • Liverpool’s clash with Manchester City will be played at the Etihad next Thursday
  • Greater Manchester Police have no issues with it taking place as planned
  • The Merseyside derby took place at Goodison Park on Sunday without incident

Manchester City have been given the green light to stage their Premier League fixture against Liverpool on July 2 at the Etihad Stadium.

Before the resumption of the top flight earlier this month, City-Liverpool was one of five matches that police asked to be held at a neutral venue because of safety concerns.

However, Manchester City Council’s safety advisory group met on Thursday and concluded there were ‘no objections’ to the fixture taking place at City’s home ground, as exclusively revealed by Sportsmail. 

Liverpool’s game against Manchester City next Thursday will be played at the Etihad

‘The Council’s Safety Advisory Group (SAG) for the Etihad Stadium met this morning to review the upcoming fixture between Manchester City FC and Liverpool FC,’ a statement from Manchester City Council read. 

‘Following the most recent round of Premier League fixtures which have all taken place behind closed doors the SAG has signalled it has no objections to the above fixture taking place at the Etihad Stadium as planned at 8.15pm, Thursday July 2. As with all other Premier League matches this fixture will take place behind closed doors, with no fans present.’ 

While Liverpool’s visit to City was one of the matches initially identified as high-risk last month by the national lead for football policing, Mark Roberts, amid suggestions they should be switched to neutral venues to avoid the potential for mass gatherings, the list was swiftly reduced to two — the City game and last weekend’s Merseyside derby.

The Merseyside derby took place at Goodison Park on Sunday without incident

Jurgen Klopp’s men could seal their first league title in 30 years away at Manchester City

Merseyside Police raised no objection to the latter fixture being staged at Goodison Park however, and after last Sunday’s goalless draw took place without incident, their counterparts in Manchester followed suit.

Liverpool were looking to clinch their first league title in 30 years at home to Crystal Palace on Wednesday but the draw at Everton coupled with City’s 5-0 rout over Burnley means it will not be mathematically assured, even with their win over Palace. 

And so the wait will go on and Jurgen Klopp’s side now face the prospect of clinching the league title against the current champions.

However, Liverpool will be crowned as champions on Thursday should City fail to beat Chelsea at Stamford Bridge. 




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