After LeBron James signed with the Miami Heat in 2010 to join forces with Dwyane Wade and Chris Bosh, he was severely criticized for his decision. NBA fans bashed the superstar small forward for teaming up with two All-Stars and taking the easy route to win a championship.
It wasn’t just fans, though, who destroyed LeBron for his decision. A few NBA executives weren’t pleased by the move either, including Orlando Magic general manager Otis Smith. After LeBron joined the Heat, Smith was openly critical of the move, which turned out to be a big mistake.
Otis Smith: I thought LeBron James was more of a competitor
Shortly after LeBron signed with the Heat, Smith told ESPN he was surprised by the move. He also took a few shots at the King.
“I was surprised that he went to Miami,” Smith said. “I thought he was, I guess, more of a competitor. The great ones do and usually stay in one location. This is a new era. It’s a little different than my time.”
LeBron clearly heard Smith’s comments. The four-time MVP, who averaged 26.7 points, 7.5 rebounds, and 7.0 assists in his first year with the Heat, saved his best game of the season for Smith and the Magic.
LeBron James scored 51 points vs. Magic with Otis Smith in attendance
LeBron destroyed Smith’s Magic team on February 3, 2011. He put up 51 points, 11 rebounds, and eight assists while shooting 17-of-25 from the field. LBJ made his first 11 shots of the game, and the Magic had zero answers for him.
The Heat went 2-2 against the Magic in 2010-11. However, they made it to the NBA Finals, while Orlando lost in the first round of the playoffs. In May 2012, Smith and the Magic agreed to part ways. Meanwhile, LeBron won his first championship a month later after guiding the Heat to a five-game series win over the Oklahoma City Thunder.
It’s unknown if Smith ultimately regrets questioning LeBron’s decision to join the Heat. However, the Akron Hammer made sure the former general manager learned his lesson never to wake up a sleeping giant.
Miami won two titles during the LeBron-Wade-Bosh era. The Chosen One also took home two regular-season MVPs and two Finals MVPs. He finished his Heat career with stellar averages of 26.9 points, 7.6 rebounds, and 6.7 assists in 294 games.
After four years in Miami, LeBron returned to the Cleveland Cavaliers in 2014, eager to win a championship where his career began. With Kyrie Irving and Kevin Love by his side, the All-Star had the talent he needed to accomplish that goal.
Cavs won 2016 title over Warriors
Behind LeBron, Irving, and Love, the Cavs defeated the 73-9 Golden State Warriors in the 2016 Finals, becoming the first team in NBA history to erase a 3-1 series deficit. LeBron averaged 29.7 points, 11.3 rebounds, and 8.9 assists in the series to win his third Finals MVP. He also had a legendary block on Andre Iguodala to set up Irving’s game-winner over Stephen Curry in the fourth quarter.
LeBron is a four-time champion and four-time Finals MVP after winning his fourth ring with the Los Angeles Lakers in 2020. He’s the only player in NBA history to win three Finals MVPs with three different teams. The 2003 No. 1 overall draft pick is undoubtedly one of the greatest players of all time, and he has taught many players, coaches, and execs not to talk smack to him throughout his decorated career.