King James will join Dwyane Wade and Chris Bosh in Miami.
“This fall, I'm going to take my talents to South Beach and join the Miami Heat,” LeBron James said midway through his one-hour ESPN special to end months of speculation. "I feel like this is going to be the best opportunity to win, and not just this season, but in multiple years."
Speaking from the Greenwich, Conn. offices of the Boys and Girls Club of America, the NBA's reigning two-time MVP said that he came to the "tough decision" earlier this morning, but had "no doubts" about the choice.
“I never wanted to leave Cleveland, and my heart will always be around that area,” James said. Later, when shown an image of his Cavaliers jersey set ablaze by an angry Cleveland fan, James said he did not want to make "an emotional decision."
One reaction he said he did pay attention to after coming to his decision was his mother's -- and was surprised by her take.
"She thought it was a great move," James said. "She felt it was going to make me happy. When I heard that from my mother it was the relief that I needed from this process."
The big Thursday reveal was the first time a free agency announcement has been primetime viewing, testament to the marketing skills and media manipulation of Team LeBron.
James arrived at the club around 8:50 p.m. wearing a lavender shirt and jeans, while side-stepping a crowd of about 400 people, The Associated Press reported.
Speculation, rumors and tea leaves have swirled for years as the world's most talented basketball player neared free agency after seven years with the Cleveland Cavaliers. In recent days, they built to a thunderous crescendo with the Miami Heat becoming the last-minute frontrunner.
He dropped cryptic hints: reporters with "sources close to the James camp" breathlessly whispered that the 25-year-old forward was "leaning toward" one team or another. He wore a Yankees cap. He talked to Nets minority owner Jay-Z. He met with Dwyane Wade and Chris Bosh, who wanted him as their teammate in Miami. Now we know which were clues, and which were simply clever misdirections.
On Thursday, James thanked all the teams that had made the final cut.
“This is tough because you feel like you let a lot of people down,” he said.