Basketball enthusiasts know “The Decision” all too well, but what many don’t know about when LeBron James made his free agency announcement in 2010 was that there was another team he came close to landing with; The Chicago Bulls.
As you remember, James didn’t just sign with the Miami Heat. Combined with him and fellow top 2003 NBA Draft pick Dwyane Wade, James was also able to help convince Chris Bosh to take his talent to South Beach, forming one of the most dominant big threes the basketball landscape has ever seen.
However, according to team insider K.C. Johnson, the Bulls nearly brought the big three to Chicago instead.
“If the Bulls were able to trade Luol Deng to the Clippers, which they had talks about doing, that Big 3 would’ve been in Chicago. Trust me on that one.”K.C. Johnson on Chicago Bulls chasing LeBron James, Dwyane Wade, and Chris Bosh in 2010
It sounds like being unable to trade Luol Deng to the Los Angeles Clippers killed the Bulls’ chances to form their own big three. While it’s not like the Bulls didn’t quickly find success, with Tom Thibodeau taking a 41-win team that saw a first-round playoff exit to a 62-win team, they also got eliminated by the ‘Heatles’ in the Eastern Conference Finals later that season.
Meanwhile, the Heat went on make four consecutive NBA Finals appearances, winning two of them. Ironically, Deng did later change teams, even ending up on the Heat, but not until after James returned to Cleveland in 2014.
Even though we’ll never know what could have been had the Bulls been able to pull off the biggest series of signings in NBA history, it’s hard not to wonder how history might have changed.