Free agent forward LeBron James made it official in an announcement from the Boys and Girls Club in Greenwich, Connecticut that was broadcast on ESPN Thursday night: he will play for the Miami Heat next season.
"This fall, this is very tough," James said. "I'm going to take my talents to South Beach and join the Miami Heat."
"I wanted to thank all six teams I had the opportunity to sit down with," James said "It's been a humbling experience, an unbelievable experience... It was everything I expected and more."
James said he made his decision Thursday morning after a conversation with his mother, Gloria James. James said the major factor in his decision was "the best opportunity for me to win, and to win now, and into the future also. Winning is a huge thing for me."
Asked for a message to fans in Cleveland, James said, "It's hard to explain... my heart and the seven years I gave to that franchise and city, it was everything. Those 20,000+ fans came out every night, they've seen me grow from an 18 year old kid to a 25 year old man. I never wanted to leave Cleveland. My heart will always be around that area."
Asked what he thought the fans reaction in Cleveland would be, James admitted he wasn't sure. "They will have mixed emotions of course... This is tough, you feel like you let a lot of people down. It's tough because I'm a loyal person."
James said he had no doubts about his decision. He thanked everyone within the Cavaliers organization.
The ESPN broadcast, dubbed "The Decision", began with analysis from Stuart Scott, Jon Barry, Michael Wilbon and Chris Broussard. Asked for their predictions, the panelists favored the Miami Heat. Prior to the announcement, ESPN displayed pictures of James in the jerseys of five different teams and showed highlights from James's high school and professional career.