National Basketball Association
Byron Scott: I warned Cavs about LeBron James leaving in 2010
National Basketball Association

Byron Scott: I warned Cavs about LeBron James leaving in 2010

Updated May. 22, 2024 7:50 p.m. ET

LeBron James "decision" to leave the Cleveland Cavaliers for the Miami Heat in 2010 didn't surprise Byron Scott.

The former Cavs head coach, who won Coach of the Year in 2008 with New Orleans prior to signing with Cleveland in 2010, told Keyshawn Johnson on his "All Facts No Breaks" podcast that one of his former players informed him of James' decision prior to his infamous television special.

The player: 12-time All-Star Chris Paul, who won Rookie of the Year under Scott in 2005-06.

"The day of the decision, I'm in the office with the brain trust, and they were like, ‘He ain't leaving,'" Scott said. "I said ‘I can find out.' … So, I called Chris Paul. I went in my office and I said CP, what's he gonna do?' CP said "I'll call you back, coach.' So, he called me back in like five minutes, he said ‘Coach, he gone.' 


"And I went in my office and I said, ‘guys, we might want to start preparing for him not coming back.' … I said, 'I just talked to somebody who knows him pretty well, and they said he ain't coming back.' They was like, ‘Ahh, he's coming back.'"

Although Scott cautioned his brass, Cleveland was shell-shocked when James announced on live TV that he'd be "taking his talents to South Beach" that July. And Scott, despite being forewarned, was stung by the decision as well.

"That one hurt me," he said. "I thought I was in a no-lose situation. I said, ‘If LeBron comes back', we got a chance to win a championship. [The brain trust] did not think — they said ‘he will not leave.' … They didn't plan this out real [well]."

As for whether he could've influenced James to choose differently, Scott was doubtful.

"I think his mind was made up," Scott said. "I think he was gone way before the season even started. I think this was all in the plan when they all played in the Olympics together, and they spent that time together. I think him and Chris and D-Wade talked about, ‘Man, if we were all together,' and I think they pretty much had a good idea that, ‘Listen, our contracts are ending at the same time, we can come to Miami.' 

"So, I don't think there was anything I could say or anybody else that was gonna change his mind."

Scott and the Cavs struggled mightily during his first season, losing a then-record 26 consecutive games. Cleveland drafted Kyrie Irving with the first overall pick in the following year's draft, but Scott was fired in 2013 after three losing seasons.

James went on to win two championships with the Heat, making a Finals run in all four of his seasons with the franchise. He then returned to Cleveland in 2014 for four more seasons and led the club to four consecutive Finals appearance, winning the title in 2016. The four-time MVP has spent the past six seasons with the Los Angeles Lakers, with whom he won another title and became the NBA's all-time leading scorer.

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