LeBron James South Beach Bound

LeBron James has chosen the Miami Heat. James announced his decision to play for Miami during a televised special from the Boys and Girls Club in Greenwich, Conn., on Thursday night.http://www.palmbeachpost.com/multimedia/dynamic/00480/wade-lebron-bosh_480064c.jpg

The addition of James is the third major move the Heat have made this summer. In addition to bringing back six-time All-Star Dwyane Wade, Miami has also agreed to contract terms with five-time All-Star Chris Bosh. Now the three kingpins of this year’s free-agent market will combine forces to try to win a championship together.

James, the two-time reigning MVP, has yet to win his first NBA title, and it’s clear the desire to win one played heavily into choosing Miami over staying with Cleveland.

After months of speculation and a week of deliberating after meeting with six prospective teams, James revealed that he didn’t make up his mind until Thursday morning.

“I decided this morning,” he said. “I went day to day, I woke up one morning and it’s one team, I woke up another and it’s that team. … This morning, I woke up, had a great conversation with my mom, and once I had that conversation with her I was set.”

Multiple reports Thursday morning leaked James’ plan to join Wade and Bosh in Miami. The stars even reportedly talked about the possibility of it happening during a “summit” in late June.

On Wednesday, Bosh said that he chose to sign with Miami even though he didn’t know if LeBron was on board yet. “I wasn’t sure if LeBron was coming back [to Cleveland] and I just wanted to leave that decision up to him,” Bosh said. “I wanted to choose the best situation for me and my family and Miami was the best decision for me.”

In the end, it was the chance to join forces with Wade and Bosh that sealed the deal.

“I think the major factor and the major reason was the best opportunity to win, and to win now, and to win into the future, also,” James said. “Winning is a huge thing for me. … I’ve done some great things in my seven years and I want to continue doing them.”

James also praised his new teammate for allowing this team to come together. “At this point, D-Wade, he’s the unselfish guy here,” he said. “To be able to have Chris Bosh and LeBron James, to welcome us to his team, it’s not about the individual here.”

In anticipation of LeBron’s big move, Miami Heat season tickets sold out overnight. The Miami Herald reported that “no tickets were available for the 2010-2011 season on the team’s website as of 11:15 a.m. Thursday.”

But it had truly began on Oct. 29, 2003, when James’ NBA debut at Arco Arena in Sacramento showed just how bright his spotlight would be and how he would never turn away. One of the league’s smallest market was on the biggest stage, with James trailed by media members at every turn before facing the Kings and lost amid a mass of reporters at midcourt as he stretched before tip-off.

He welcomed the attention then, even as a 19-year-old who looked nothing like the specimen of a man he would become. That trend continued throughout his career. Before home games at Quicken Loans Arena, the self-anointed King would hold court with the media outside the Cavaliers locker room as if he was the coach.

But his phenomenal play quieted those fans and media who complained that he was overhyped. That assertion was certainly true, but the annual All-Star berths (six in all) and eventual MVP awards (two) came close to matching the endless mania that surrounded him. Those voices are back now, though, having grown tired of the James-driven spectacle that will end with the most important questions at hand unanswered.

Is he great?

Is he a champion?

James, whose only Finals appearance came in 2007 when his Cavs were swept by San Antonio, missed his chance at the right kind of free agency run-up during last season’s playoffs. No moment was worse than his unforgettably-listless performance in Game 5 of the Eastern Conference semifinals against Boston, when he shot 3 of 14 from the field and scored 15 points in the 120-88 blowout, the Celtics seizing a 3-2 series lead before finishing the Cavs in Game 6.
His plotting of this drama had already been underway, with James’ people scheming and planning to capture the masses and make a fifth of the league’s teams fawn for his services. They originally planned a free agency tour before having teams come to him in Ohio, and even discussed commemorative Nike shoes for each city stop to chronicle the process. New York, New Jersey, Miami, Chicago, Cleveland, Los Angeles.

It all ended in Greenwich, Conn. on Thursday night, but it is far from over.

The King still needs a crown.

FanHouse’s Sam Amick contributed to this report.

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