Aside from the alleged traitorousness, arrogance, callousness, short-sightedness, and all the other negative adjectives that have been largely forgotten or forgiven with LeBron James's recent success, the lasting aspect of The Decision will be a particularly clunky bit of phraseology that has nonetheless caught on: "taking my talents to South Beach."
At first, the phrase was roundly mocked. It does sound rather awkward, after all. Immediately after LeBron announced his move, the internet turned "taking my talents to South Beach" into an amorphous catch-all euphemism for all sorts of sordid behavior. Various Urban Dictionary definitions seem to coalesce around the masturbation- and poop-themed usages—a sort "mowing the lawn" for the sports fan set.
But at some point, probably right around the time LeBron stepped on the Celtics' throat in his first widely-heralded display of Jordan-esque killer instinct that lazy sportswriters were so adamant he lacked, the phrase began to lose its stigma. Today, you are much more likely to hear someone "taking their talents" somewhere in complete earnestness on ESPN's coverage of signing day than as a dorm room joke.
Those most responsible for turning the phrase's meaning into something positive have been high school athletes. In a way, The Decision and the all-encompassing courting process it consummated were really a substitute for the college recruitment trail that LeBron never got to walk. So it's not all that surprising that the language associated with the biggest commitment announcement of all time has become the boilerplate verbiage for all those that followed.
Here are a few videos of high school athletes "taking their talents" to their schools of choice. We start with Ezekiel Elliot, who said, "I'll be taking my talents to Columbus, to the Ohio State University":
Next is Leonard Fournette, who told ESPN, "I'm going to take my talent for the next three or four years to the University of—the Buga'll [his nickname is Buga Nation] be at LSU":
Gerald Willis III telling the world (and his bemused, LSU-fan mother), "I will take my talent to Gainesville, Florida."
Montravius Adams, with "I will be taking my talents to the University of Auburn":
Zach Banner saying, "I, Zach Banner, will be taking my talents and my efforts to the University of Southern California":
Hootie Jones with "for the next four years of my life, I'll be taking all my physical abilities to the University of Alabama":
Twitter is another outlet for high school athletes to pledge their talents:
— 1⃣⚡️FlashGang (@irons_1) January 26, 2014
I will be taking my talents to West Virginia University
— Donte Williams (@h_donte5) February 5, 2014
So proud of my boy @TM7_NextGen for taking his talents to Penn state. They have just gotten an amazing guy and athlete. ������⚪️�� love you man.
— Justin♊️Baker (@JBakesss) February 5, 2014
— Joseph B. Logue (@Logue800) February 5, 2014
It hasn't only been the athletes, though. Newsmen have adopted the phrase too, though mostly in jest. The Miami Herald had some fun with the phrase when it announced "Hundreds of bikers take their talents to South Beach" during a bike-club meeting last year. In a bit of a stretch, a North Carolina television station claimed "Businesses take their talents to Super Bowl" when a local limo company was enlisted to help with transportation to and from the Meadowlands last week. One radio station had a whole "Taking My Talents To...." page on its website that hosted videos of high school athletes' college commitments.
It's even broken into the lexicon of the British press. The Daily Mail ran a story about a rugby player joining the Detroit Lions at the end of this season and headlined it "Rugby's fastest man takes his talents to the NFL's Detroit Lions." Then there's Steve Nichols commenting on the Juan Mata transfer:
So the phrase started out being ridiculed, became a joke, and is now is an accepted, stigma-free way of announcing a big move. Who would have guessed that during The Decision, LeBron was lending his talents to the English lexicon too?