National Basketball Association superstar LeBron James of the United States has been the most highly sought free agent of the 2010 off-season. The two-time Most Valuable Player announced late Thursday that he will leave Cleveland Cavaliers and play next season for the Miami Heat. James ended weeks of speculation in an unprecedented manner.
Never before had an NBA star appeared on a special nationally one-hour live televised special to announce his move. LeBron James did it Thursday on the sports cable television network ESPN.
"I'm going to take my talents to South Beach, and join the Miami Heat," James said.
LeBron James 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. The forward became a star his first season, winning the Rookie of the Year award.
But after seven years in Cleveland, the 25-year-old James felt his opportunities would be better in Miami.
"I feel like this is going to give me the best opportunity to win. And to win for multiple years," James said. "And not only just to win in the regular season or just win five games in a row or three games in a row. I want to win championships. And I feel I can compete down there."
In Miami, he will join two good friends - Dwayne Wade and Chris Bosh. Wade was the MVP of Miami's Championship win at the end of the 2005-2006 season. Bosh just signed with Miami as a free agent all-star formerly with the Toronto Raptors.
During the ESPN special called "The Decision," James said that was enough to convince him to switch teams.
"The things that the Miami Heat franchise have done to free up [salary] cap space and be able to put themselves in position this summer to have all three of us, that was hard to turn down," James said. "Those are two great players, two of the greatest players we have in the game today. And you add me, we are going to be a really great team."
James credits Dwayne Wade with being the catalyst for creating a formidable lineup on the court.
"D-Wade, he is the unselfish guy here. To be able have Chris Bosh and then LeBron James, to welcome us to his team, it is not about an individual here," James said. "Because if that was the case, D-Wade would not have asked us to join him. Or we would not have asked if it was OK to come down here. It is not about individuals. It is about a team. And that is what this game is about."
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.
"King James" has collected fame, accolades, awards and multi-million dollar endorsements. But he hopes his one missing jewel - an NBA championship - will be found in Miami.