LeBron James(notes) will join fellow-NBA stars Dwyane Wade(notes) and Chris Bosh(notes) with the Miami Heat.
Ending weeks of silence and drama, the two-time MVP said on his ESPN television special from Greenwich, Connecticut on Thursday night that he’s decided to join the Miami Heat and leave the Cleveland Cavaliers after an unsuccessful seven-year quest for the championship he covets.
“I can’t say it was always in my plans, because I never thought it was possible,” James said. “But the things that the Miami Heat franchise have done, to free up cap space and be able to put themselves in a position this summer to have all three of us, it was hard to turn down. Those are two great players, two of the greatest players that we have in this game today.”
Olympic teammates in Beijing, James, Bosh and Wade all helped deliver gold medals.
This time, it’ll be about a gold trophy, the NBA championship one—the one Wade got in 2006, the one that James and Bosh have yet to touch.
“Winning is a huge thing for me,” James said.
It’s a huge victory for the Heat, who got commitments from Wade and Bosh on Wednesday. That duo, along with James, formed the upper echelon of the most-celebrated free-agent period in league history.
Heat president Pat Riley landed them all—three stars to help shape his quest for a dynasty in Miami.
And for Cleveland, a city scorned for generations by some of sports’ biggest letdowns, James’ long-awaited words represented a defeat perhaps unlike any other.
James is gone. Home sweet home no more.
He said he made the decision Thursday morning and knows it won’t go over well in Ohio.
“They can have mixed emotions, of course,” James said, adding that Akron will “always be home for me.”
His new home—part-time or otherwise—wasted no time in beginning the celebration. Horns honked outside the arena and on Miami Beach, where Wade was watching the announcement with members of his inner circle.
“It’s going to be crazy,” Wade said.
James, Bosh and Wade entered the pros in the same year, the respective Nos. 1, 4 and 5 picks in the 2003 draft. They went their separate ways: James to Cleveland, Bosh to Toronto and Wade to Miami, where he won a championship partnered with center Shaquille O’Neal(notes) in 2006. That year, James, Bosh and Wade all signed matching contracts to make sure they were all unrestricted free agents at the same time.