From “The Decision” to “The Email,” we have seen transition and growth from new Los Angeles Lakers star LeBron James.

To truly understand, you must rewind to James’ biggest career crisis  on July 8, 2010, when he announced, “I’m going to take my talents to  South Beach and join the Miami Heat” as a worldwide audience watched on  ESPN.

Do you remember the outrage and emotion after The Decision? It was  not all bad for ESPN, as it drew a high rating with nearly 10 million  viewers. Also, $6 million was raised for charity from the proceeds of  the show and commercials. But Cleveland Cavaliers fans’ hearts were  broken. Some cried, while others burned James’ No. 23 jersey. About the  only place in the Cleveland area that still loved James was his hometown  of Akron.

Cavaliers owner Dan Gilbert wrote an angry open letter saying his  franchise would win a championship before the “self-declared former  King,” described him as selfish, heartless and callous, and called the  move a “cowardly betrayal.” NBA commissioner David Stern would later  fine Gilbert $100,000 for the letter. The Rev. Jesse Jackson said  Gilbert’s email “personified a slave master’s mentality.”

The Q Scores Company listed James as the sixth-most disliked sports  personality behind, coincidentally, fellow African-American athletes  Michael Vick, Tiger Woods, Terrell Owens, Chad Ochocinco and Kobe  Bryant. Forbes.com listed James second in an article on the Most  Disliked NBA Players on Dec. 21, 2011. Topping the list was New Jersey  Nets forward Kris Humphries, who divorced Kim Kardashian after 72 days  of marriage.

After the Heat lost to the Dallas Mavericks in the 2011 NBA Finals,  James made matters worse by telling the media, “All the people who are  rooting for me to fail, at the end of the day, they have to wake up  tomorrow and have the same life that they had before they woke up today.  They got the same personal problems they had, today. And I’m going to  continue to live the way I want to live and continue to do the things I  want to do with me and my family.”

While James was mostly winning on the court, he needed help off the  court with his image — fast. Several months after the Finals tirade, he  hired renowned publicist Adam Mendelsohn, who specialized in brand,  crisis and media strategy. Mendelsohn was the former deputy chief of  staff to California Gov. Arnold Schwarzenegger and also helped Fortune  50 companies, CEOs and celebrities in the entertainment and athletic  world. With Mendelsohn by James’ side, the drama quieted down for the  man called “The Chosen One” in high school.

After winning two titles with the Heat, James shocked the NBA world  again by going back to the Cavaliers. There was no television show this  time, however. Instead, James wrote a heartfelt letter in Sports Illustrated on July 11, 2014, “I’m Coming Back to Cleveland.” It was important for  James at that time to explain his return and his departure from Miami, a  source said.

“My goal is still to win as many titles as possible, no question. But  what’s most important for me is bringing one trophy back to Northeast  Ohio,” James wrote.

Miami fans were upset for a moment before realizing they still had  the beach and sunshine. As for the Cavaliers fans and Cleveland, they  instantly forgave James, celebrated the homecoming and this time cried  tears of joy. Downtown Cleveland restaurants and bars were certainly  happy to see him back. The hate for James died down with the decision to  go home.

James went on to fulfill his dream of bringing the first NBA  championship to Cleveland in 2016. Times have certainly changed, as  James is widely beloved as the NBA’s best player and it is often argued  whether he or Michael Jordan is the greatest of all time.

James is now viewed as a great husband, father and philanthropist  affecting the youth positively. Forbes.com reported that James earned  $86.2 million in salary and endorsements in 2017 and was eclipsed only  by soccer star Cristiano Ronaldo ($93 million). About the only thing  that might have lost James some fans has been his verbal disdain for  President Donald Trump, which may have gained fans in the process.

As big as the World Cup is, James had the ability to take over the  American sports spotlight with his pending decision with the arrival of  free agency on July 1. Longtime San Francisco Chronicle sports  columnist Ann Killion tweeted that James had better not announce his  decision during the World Cup. James actually did not want anything  resembling The Decision in announcing where he would be playing next.

“LeBron didn’t want a circus, drama or the media,” a source with his  camp said. “LeBron didn’t want a lot of drama. He wanted it to be clean  too.”

So instead, James and his camp decided several weeks ago to go old  school in announcing his decision, according to the source. It would be  in a press release through his agent Rich Paul’s agency, Klutch Sports,  if he chose to depart from Cleveland. James’ decision was to be  announced in a short statement with an email attachment. There would be  no quote. It was to be sent to about 50 NBA writers and the Cavaliers’  beat writers, a source said. The statement ends with three number signs,  which was an old press release way of signifying the end. If James  chose to return to the Cavaliers, the source said, he planned on having a  news conference in Cleveland.

It was 8:05 p.m. EDT on July 1 when the email was sent to select NBA  and Cavaliers reporters from the sender: Info@KlutchGroup.com. The  subject read: “Klutch Statement Press Release Re: LeBron James.” It was  not previously planned for a certain day or time, but rather the right  time, a source said.

“The Email” read: “Please see attached. Klutch Sports Group.” The  Klutch Sports Group attached letter inside the email read: “For  Immediate Release: LeBron James, a three time finals MVP, fourteen time  NBA All Star, and two time Olympic gold medalist has agreed to four  year, $154 million contract with the Los Angeles Lakers.”

It was simple with no quote, as planned. It probably had to be read  two or three times by the media for authenticity and to believe it. But  the message was clear: James was going to the Lakers, and no explanation  points or television show were needed. It was a simple and mature move  for James at 33 years old that was certainly much better played than The  Decision at age 25. James would later express his love for Cleveland  and Cavaliers fans on Instagram.

Perhaps Cleveland prepared itself mentally for this,  but the response to James’ departure was not angry this time around.  Gilbert wrote a positive thank-you note in an email and even said James’  No. 23 jersey would be retired. Longtime Cleveland sports columnist  Terry Pluto wrote a column on Cleveland.com, “LeBron James earned right  to leave Cleveland Cavaliers.” The national response to James in a  Lakers uniform was of excitement and wonder, not anger and confusion.

James has been in the spotlight since he was a teenager. Even so, Los  Angeles brings a media monster like no other. Outlets will be  everywhere trying to film King James, his family, friends and business  confidants. It will be a big local sports story if, as rumored, LeBron  James Jr. plays for California basketball power Sierra Canyon High  School with Scottie Pippen Jr. and Kenyon Martin Jr. The media horde at  Lakers home and road games and practices may even eclipse when Shaquille  O’Neal and Kobe Bryant were around.

But after overcoming The Decision and maturing to The Email, a  well-prepared James surely has his Los Angeles strategy figured out. For  example, James’ first local media questions will have to wait until  Lakers media day in late September. However, his next appearance will be  in Akron on July 30 when his foundation opens his new school, I Promise  School.

Yes, a lot has changed since The Decision.