If you ever get a chance to read Malcolm Gladwell's Blink, do it. It's a fascinating book, even though it's Gladwell's usual small-sample-size stuff that may not have any real scientific tests to back it up.
The gist of the book is that while we often take decisions seriously - and spend days, weeks and sometimes months agonizing about them - a lot of times we know the right decision to make in a split-second. The blink of an eye, if you will.
I found it fitting LeBron's special tonight was sponsored by Bing - a search engine that apparently helps you make decisions or something (who knows, because neither I nor anyone else actually uses it). I say that because, just like Tony Bennett, LeBron had time to think over a decision, and completely over-thought it to the point of making the wrong choice. LeBron's choice will do years' worth of damage to his public relationship, his brand and the city of Cleveland (both financially and emotionally). He's boxed himself into a situation where he has to win championships to regain his "king" status among the average NBA fan. And even then equal credit may go to Chris Bosh and DeWayne Wade.
Tony Bennett's decision damaged Pullman, WSU and Cougar sports fans. I still maintain that if he doesn't rebuild Virginia sooner it will also have been a horrible career move. My money is on Tony being a NBA assistant by the time 2015 rolls around.
Two young men faced with two important decisions. Both panicked at the last moment, fearing if they didn't do something drastic, something unorthodox, greatness may slip out of reach. And that panic came even though both men had plenty of time to think over the decision. If LeBron had gone to New York, Cleveland fans would've been sad, but they would have got it. If Tony had gone to Indiana, we'd have been sad too but we would have got it. Understood there were brighter lights out there. They would have been reaching for the stars.
Instead, they wavered, they overthought, and ultimately came to conclusions that seem absolutely incomprehensible to an outsider. If only LeBron had listened to Nike, or the power brokers in New York, or simply followed the cash like so many other athletes have (e.g. stayed with the Cavs for max money). If only Tony Bennett had been a little more like his father, and a little less like Kelvin Sampson. Ultimately, it didn't matter.
Two men. Two very bad decisions.