Why didn’t LeBron James tell Dwyane Wade he was leaving to Cavaliers? ‘They couldn’t ask Dwyane to carry that secret’

Cleveland Cavaliers forward LeBron James (23) and Miami Heat guard Dwyane Wade talk following an NBA basketball game, Thursday, Dec. 25, 2014, in Miami. The Heat defeated the Cavaliers 101-91. (AP Photo/Lynne Sladky)

The LeBron James-Miami Heat marriage ended three years ago. It’s in the past and both sides have moved on.

But every now and then, more details trickle out regarding James’ departure from the Heat in the summer of 2014. On the latest episode of “The Lowe Post Show” podcast with ESPN’s Zach Lowe, Brian Windhorst made an appearance to talk about his new book called “Return of the King: LeBron James, the Cleveland Cavaliers and the Greatest Comeback in NBA History” and he said some interesting stuff.

Windhorst, who works for ESPN and has been covering James since his high school days, said the Heat believe they were sent on a “wild goose chase” that summer. It’s already known that Heat president Pat Riley and general manager Andy Elisburg met with James in Las Vegas just two days before he announced his intention to return to the Cavaliers, but Windhorst provided some more details on that meeting.

“The Heat believe that when they walked into the room, they believe LeBron had already made up his mind,” Windhorst said on the podcast. “I don’t think there’s anything you can ever say to them that would change their mind. And LeBron will say, ‘I didn’t have my mind made up. I still was considering it.’

“LeBron’s people just say that that’s not true and that they didn’t make their final decision until literally the day before the essay came out. They’re never going to agree on that.”

[Hassan Whiteside keeps his emotions in check and delivers in a big way]

[Goran Dragic steady, solid (and overlooked) in win at Charlotte]

But maybe the most interesting story Windhorst shared on the podcast was about the famous flight from Las Vegas that carried Dwyane Wade and James back to Miami. A few hours after the flight landed in Miami, James announced in an open essay to SI.com’s Lee Jenkins that he would be leaving the Heat to sign with the Cavaliers.

“Dwyane is on the plane and Dwyane doesn’t know,” Windhorst said. “So they’re on the flight. It’s like a five hour flight from Vegas to Miami. They are on a Nike jet. Dwyane is catching a ride back to Miami. Literally on the plane, Lee Jenkins’ first draft of the story was emailed in and they’re editing the draft sitting there with Dwyane on the plane and with Dwyane not knowing.

“Lee Jenkins knew before the Cavs, he knew before Dwyane Wade.”

Why didn’t James tell his close friend?

“Of course I asked, why wouldn’t you tell Dwyane?” Windhorst said on the podcast. “If you guys are the greatest of friends, why wouldn’t you tell him? And the answer that Rich Paul gave me, I thought at first it sounded kind of fishy. But the more you think about it, the more it’s true and tells you how they thought about this. They couldn’t ask Dwyane to carry that secret. It would have been unfair to put him in that position because obviously the Heat would have expected him to tell them.”

Wade has said in the past that he did know on that flight from Las Vegas that James was ready to leave the Heat for the Cavaliers, but only because he could read his friend’s body language.

“I went to sleep knowing,” Wade said a few weeks after James made his decision. “He called me the next day, but I knew then. Obviously he still had to say the final yay or nay, but I knew. I could tell.

“As his friend, I’m just supportive. As crazy as that might sound, I’m supportive of my friends doing what makes them happy. Obviously, same thing with him in this situation. You’ve gotta do what makes you happy — selfishly do what makes you happy. The decision to go back home was that.”

Windhorst’s book, co-written with ESPN.com reporter Dave McMenamin, called “Return of the King: LeBron James, the Cleveland Cavaliers and the Greatest Comeback in NBA History” will be released on April 11.

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