It was a move that will surely go down in sports history.
But after a protracted wait, King James finally announced, at 9:27 p.m. ET, he'd be joining the Miami Heat. LeBron James' decision to televise his announcement became an event that seemed as if it could have been ripped from the pages of a screenplay. Sitting before ESPN cameras, the former Cleveland Cavaliers forward had millions of viewers anticipating his final choice with baited breath.
"I feel like this is going to give me the best opportunity to win — and to win for multiple years. I want to be able to win championships," he said, explaining what motivated him to venture to Miami.
"This process has been everything I thought and more. I put myself in the position to have this process, where I could hear teams' pitches and figure out what was the best possibility for me to win ... and be happy," James said during an interview before his big announcement.
The 25-year-old revealed that it was a really humbling experience to be in the position he'd found himself in, as multiple teams vied for his attention. James thanked all of those teams, saying he'd made the decision earlier Thursday morning (July 8) and adding that in the preceding weeks, he often changed his mind on a day-to-day basis.
"I woke up, had a great conversation with my mom, once I had that conversation with her, I was set," he said.
James is considered to be the most prized free agent in league history, and he was the last of the top free agents to announce where he'd land. The major factor in his decision, he said, was the best opportunity for him to win, both now and in the future.
"Ever since I was a rookie or in high school ... that was the number one thing for me," he said. "I've done some great things in my seven years and I want to continue to do that," he continued about his tenure in Cleveland.
The announcement comes after what felt like an eternity of a waiting period, with the two-time NBA MVP finally ending months of speculation about where he would play basketball next season. (James is only one of two players to earn the MVP accolade twice by the age of 25; Kareem Abdul-Jabbar is the other.)
Diehard NBA fans and casual watchers alike had been guessing about where James would go in 2010, many since the NBA superstar signed his last contract back in 2007. Before his announcement, speculation was heavy: Would he break his hometown team, Cleveland's, heart? Would he go to Miami and join his former U.S. Olympic teammates Dwyane Wade and Chris Bosh? Or would he go to New York or Chicago?
Hours before the announcement on Thursday, James made an appearance at his basketball camp, arriving mid-afternoon with former teammate Damon Jones. Others in attendance included top college coaches, including Duke's Mike Krzyzewski, North Carolina's Roy Williams, West Virginia's Bob Huggins and Syracuse's Jim Boeheim.
James gave his decision during an hourlong broadcast that aired live ESPN from a Boys & Girls Club in Greenwich, Connecticut. The aim of the special program, James' said, was also to raise at least $1 million to aid James' foundation.
What do you think of LeBron's decision to go to Miami? Did he make the right choice? Sound off in the comments!