the South Beach of Miami.
Ending weeks of silence and drama, the two-time MVP said on his ESPN special from Greenwich, Conn. 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.”
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, a three-pack of 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.
Apparently money wasn’t the deciding factor, since Cleveland could offer the most.
The Cavaliers, a franchise that was in ruins before winning a lottery drawing and bringing James up Interstate 77 from his Akron home, have had the upper hand — until now. They were able to offer him more money — $30 million more — than any other team.
But James told ESPN it wasn’t about the money.
Both Wade and Bosh both said they would take fewer dollars to make this happen. And that, combined with what Riley and Heat coach Erik Spoelstra said to James on the recruiting tour, was enough to pull off the stunner.
Was it all part of a plan or just coincidence considering …
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 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. (Source: ESPN)
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