#tbt: LeBron James and other bad NBA breakups

With the 2015-16 NBA season less than a week away from tipoff, here’s a fun look back at some of the most notable splits in league history.

My short post for ESPN.com went live on the five-year anniversary (July 8, 2015) of LeBron James’ “Decision” to leave the Cleveland Cavaliers via free agency and join the Miami Heat.

Among the other notable breakups: Dwight Howard leaving the Los Angeles Lakers in 2013, Pat Riley leaving the New York Knicks in 1995, and Shaquille O’Neal leaving the Orlando Magic in 1996. An excerpt on O’Neal:

Playing varying roles in his decision [to join the Lakers] were reported tension with then-coach Brian Hill and guard Penny Hardaway, a highly publicized Orlando Sentinel poll to which O’Neal took exception, and opportunities in the entertainment world. But the bottom line is this: O’Neal went on to win four titles (one with Miami), while Orlando has made just one Finals trip since.


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