National Basketball Association (NBA) superstar LeBron James is the most highly sought free agent of the 2010 off-season. The two-time Most Valuable Player has the choice of remaining with the Cleveland Cavaliers or signing with a new team. James will end weeks of speculation Thursday night (9 p.m. local time), when he announces his decision during a one-hour, nationally televised special on the sports cable network ESPN.
Forward LeBron James, 25, built his reputation as one of the top players in the National Basketball Association playing for the Cleveland Cavaliers - the team that first drafted him in 2003 and one that is close to his hometown of Akron, Ohio. He became a star his first season, winning the Rookie of the Year award.
Rumors about where James might play next season have changed almost daily since his contract with Cleveland ended July 1, making the Ohio native a free agent. James has the option of remaining in his home state with the Cavaliers, or switching to another team. However, under NBA free agent regulations, he is permitted to make the most money if he re-signs with Cleveland.
If James remains a Cavalier, he can get a six-year contract worth about $125.5 million. Other teams he has been considering could pay him a maximum $96.1 million over five years; still a staggering amount of money.
Various reports have said James will move and likely choose among the Chicago Bulls, the New York Knicks, the New Jersey Nets, and most recently, the Miami Heat.
ESPN analyst Chris Broussard believes now that Miami has acquired Toronto Rapters free agent all-star Chris Bosh, that James may be headed south.
"I'm still hearing from multiple sources that Miami is the frontrunner; that they expect to hear him announce the Miami Heat tonight and go join Dwayne Wade and Chris Bosh," said Broussard. "But it's not a done deal by any stretch, and I still believe that Cleveland, New York and Chicago are all in the hunt."
Broussard added that everyone, from friends and family to the media and fellow-players, has been trying to influence LeBron James on his decision.
"He's hearing from a lot of different people on what he should do," explained Broussard. "It's going to be his decision, obviously. But it's still suspenseful, and that's what they want for their show tonight."
Fans call LeBron James, "King James" because of the exciting energy and scoring prowess he brings to the court. That talent has made him a two-time Most Valuable Player, as well as a reigning Olympic gold medalist as a member of the U.S national team that won in Beijing in 2008.
But for all of his seemingly indomitable strength and skill; all the talent, the fame, the accolades and awards, the multi-million dollar endorsements, "King James" is still missing one important jewel in his royal treasury: an NBA championship.
James led the Cavaliers to the best record in the NBA the past two seasons, but failed to deliver a finals berth. Cleveland lost this year in the second round of the playoffs to the Boston Celtics. That situation has created much speculation about whether James will take his talent elsewhere in search of a better supporting cast to help him win an NBA crown.
LeBron James has remained silent until now, and will announce his future plans in kingly fashion Thursday night on a nationally televised program simply titled "The Decision" on the ESPN television network.