It was a palpable thing, and as time has passed, proved to be more than justified.
Well, it seems as though the Cleveland Cavaliers bought into it. So much so that their former coach is now saying that the team deliberately tanked in order to get the young phenom.
In an interview with Fanhouse, John Lucas says, "They trade all our guys away and we go real young, and the goal was to get LeBron and also to sell the team,'' Lucas said in an interview with FanHouse. "I didn't have a chance. ... You can't fault the Cavaliers for wanting to get LeBron. It was hard to get free agents to come there.''
Lucas' Cavs finished the 2002-2003 season with a record of 17-65, bad enough to snag the first overall pick in the draft, where they selected James.
It's a claim then-principal owner Gordon Gund strongly disputes.
Gund strongly denied in an interview with FanHouse the Cavaliers had a strategy to get James by losing games in 2002-03.
"You don't try to get the No. 1 pick,'' Gund said. "That's why the lottery was designed. To not allow that. We had a young team that we were developing. ... We did not tank the season. ... To lose to get LeBron James, we would never do that. I wouldn't do that. I couldn't do that."