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#pounditWednesday, August 4, 2021

Rich Paul believes Bill Simmons’ criticism of ‘The Decision’ was racist

LeBron James

LeBron James has now gone 11 years, three teams, and four NBA titles since his infamous “The Decision” special in 2010. But Rich Paul still has not forgotten about one particular criticism that James received during that whole saga.

Paul, James’ agent, was featured in a profile for The New Yorker this week. In it, Paul said that he still has not forgiven The Ringer CEO Bill Simmons for the comments that Simmons made about James at the time.

The interview cites a column that Simmons, who was then with ESPN, wrote. The column came in response to “The Decision,” James’ national television spectacle announcing that he was leaving the Cleveland Cavaliers to sign with the Miami Heat.

“I blame the people around him. I blame the lack of a father figure in his life,” Simmons wrote. “I blame us for feeding his narcissism to the point that he referred to himself in the third person five times in forty-five minutes. I blame local and national writers (including myself) for apparently not doing a good enough job explaining to athletes like LeBron what sports mean to us, and how it IS a marriage, for better and worse, and that we’re much more attached to these players and teams than they realize.”

Paul made clear in the interview that he still did not appreciate the remarks.

“That’s why I don’t speak to Bill Simmons,” said Paul. “A lot of that has to do with race too. He wouldn’t have said that about Larry Bird. He wouldn’t have said that about JJ Redick. You get what I am saying? ‘The Decision’ ten years ago is the norm today. It’s what everyone wants to do. Kids won’t even decide where they go to college without it being a big production. And Bill Simmons says some s— like that.”

James himself felt very similarly about another criticism that was levied his way for “The Decision” — Cleveland Cavaliers owner Dan Gilbert’s notorious open letter to the team’s fans. The four-time MVP would later say that he thought Gilbert’s letter had racial undertones.

As for Simmons, he has had plenty of feuds with prominent NBA figures, even as recently as this season. Now we know Paul is on that list as well.

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