Student or Learner
James tells Sports Illustrated that he's decided to go home.
James told Sports Illustrated that he'd decided to go home.
James told Sports Illustrated that he decided to go home.
What is the difference in meaning of the above sentences?
The first is in the present tense, while the other two are in the past tense. This confers the usual meaning of these tenses that you'd be familar with.
There's no essential difference in the meaning of the second two by themselves. It depends on the context. I'd use the second sentence if James wasn't home yet, and the third if he was at home. An explanation of the last two can't really be given without a wider context in which one can infer why the past perfect or the simple past tense has been used.
The underlying meaning of all the sentences is the same: they deal with a proposition about James telling Sports Illustrated about his going home.