Griezmann's choice to imitate LeBron James' 'Decision' was a bad idea
Antoine Griezmann loves basketball, the NBA and its stars -- especially Lebron James. He regularly spends his holidays in the U.S. and loves American culture; there's nothing wrong with that at all. However, he took the whole thing too far Thursday when he thought it was a good idea to announce he was staying at Atletico Madrid and not joining Barcelona via a video message titled "The Decision."
The Decision ... ring a bell? Of course it does.
In July 2010, a free-agent LeBron James announced live on ESPN that he was signing with the Miami Heat and leaving Cleveland, his hometown, and the Cavaliers, where he'd spent seven years, racking up six All-Star appearances and won two NBA MVP awards. His decision was highly anticipated, not just by the two teams involved but the others who were also trying to recruit the superstar, their fans and pretty much every basketball fan. The show, which lasted 45 minutes, was watched by a whopping 9.94 million viewers with a peak at 13.1 million at the moment of his announcement, which came 30 minutes into the program.
Eight years later, Griezmann, maybe convinced by his marketing team or maybe on his own, thought it was a good idea to copy The King and to dramatise his decision in a similar fashion.
Antoine Griezmann is not LeBron James. He will never be LeBron, a basketball legend, arguably the best player to ever play the sport along with Michael Jordan. Additionally, the France star's announcement Thursday night was not followed by millions of people in Spain, in France or around the world. It felt even more underwhelming because of the fact he is staying put.
LeBron eventually expressed some regrets regarding The Decision, trying to see things from the fans' point of view. "If the shoe was on the other foot and I was a fan, and I was very passionate about one player and he decided to leave, I would be upset too about the way he handled it," he said.
The fallout from the show was also quite brutal at times, not just from Dan Gilbert (who owns the Cavaliers) but from many in the U.S. where James was often criticised for choosing to announce his move in this ostentatious way. Why on earth, then, did Griezmann think it was a good idea to copy LeBron? And how can he have thought it would be well-received?
There is probably a bit of ego on show from Griezmann, and some arrogance from a player who recently had to shave his head because his hair got damaged by his last choice of colour.
Any way you look at it, Griezmann's delivery was a faux pas, showing a lack of tact and also a lack of respect for Barcelona and their fans to reveal he will not join them in this silly manner.
Even the timing is wrong for Griezmann, with his gaudy announcement coming two days before his first game of the World Cup. The teaser video, released on social media, on Thursday morning and then deleted, was wrong as well. No matter what his future holds, Griezmann should be focusing on France and winning the World Cup. The only thing the striker got right was his observation that everyone was fed up by the whole "will he stay, will he leave" saga.
In the end, Griezmann made his future and his announcement into a big joke. It's no wonder he refused to be drawn on anything when he gave a news conference Tuesday in Russia after Les Bleus arrived. He could not compromise his big plan, one that will go down in history as a frustrating mess.
Julien Laurens is a London-based French journalist who writes for ESPN FC and Le Parisien. Follow him on Twitter: @LaurensJulien.