3-fete: It might be Miami-Wade County, but for now, the buzz of LeBron James takes over HeatBy Tim Reynolds, AP
Friday, July 9, 2010
Welcome to Miami, LeBron, as Heat begin the party
MIAMI — Dwyane Wade was on the right side of the photo, then realized that wasn’t the optimal spot for the shortest guy in the frame.
So he moved to the middle, LeBron James on one side, Chris Bosh on the other.
Wearing their new uniforms for 13,000 delirious fans, then displaying them hours later for photographers — and even donning them for the contract-signing ceremony in owner Micky Arison’s office — James, Wade and Bosh got their welcoming celebration in Miami on Friday night, formally becoming teammates and probable favorites to win multiple NBA championships.
Wade is Miami’s star and Bosh’s decision was the one that seemed to pull it all together, but in many respects, the night was all about James. Farewell, Cleveland. Hello, Miami.
“I’ve made the right decision,” the two-time reigning MVP said.
A packed arena of Miami Heat fans, plus another 10,000 or so outside the building, couldn’t have been more thrilled to hear James say those words. His acquisition by the Heat became official Friday, and he, Wade and Bosh arrived together in a spectacle typically reserved for rock concerts and award shows.
Dressed in a white Heat uniform for the first time, James took a look at his new home crowd, folded his arms across his chest after he and his teammates were dropped from the sky on a forklift, and nodded.
The MVP has taken center stage in Miami.
“We know what the fans want,” James said.
In case there was some question, they told him: Yes, a “Beat L.A.” chant broke out in July, call it an opening salvo aimed at the two-time defending champion Lakers.
Great fanfare. Great expectations.
“It’s still surreal, man,” Wade said. “Me, Chris and ‘Bron. We ready. We want to go to the gym now.”
After their arrival, Bosh pointed to the fans and screamed, while Wade aimed his index fingers at the crowd and James strutted about to the fans’ delight.
They walked down the stairs to a long runway, slapping high-fives with fans, clapping their hands and soaking in the atmosphere.
“We wanted to come here, then LeBron wanted to come,” Bosh said. “Let’s get it done, man. Let’s get this thing going.”
The Heat sent two future first-round and two second-round picks to the Cavaliers for James, while packaging two first-round picks to the Raptors for Bosh.
“We here now,” James said. “And we’re here for a long time.”
Wade, Bosh and James all signed their six-year contracts earlier Friday night, each set to make about $2 million less than the $16.6 million they could have demanded for the coming season.
“All three of these gentlemen up here are going to be here for a long time and they’re going to be here for a long time for us to enjoy, thoroughly enjoy,” Heat president Pat Riley said.
At the rally, which was announced Friday afternoon and people still snatched up all 13,000 available seats in an hour, fans were given posters with James, Wade and Bosh together in Heat uniforms — “Yes. We. Did.” was the slogan in big white letters.
If Riley gets his way, the party will be the first of many for the NBA’s newest star cluster — a grouping everyone, even Wade, is still getting used to.
“When I look around and see No. 6 and No. 1 on the court with me, that’s when it’s going to see real,” Wade said.
James will wear No. 6 in Miami, Bosh No. 1, both having switched their numbers. Wade considered swapping his No. 3 as well.
“Then I realized, three is magical, and now it represents more than just my number,” Wade said. “It represents the three of us making sacrifices as well.”
Wade and Bosh decided Tuesday that they would play together in Miami, releasing that information to the world on Wednesday. With that, it was all up to James, who said he decided Thursday morning — hours before his made-for-TV announcement special that night — that he’d join the Heat and form a power triple.
James touched down Friday morning, took his physical, and then arrived for the party.
Expectations couldn’t be higher, and James, Wade and Bosh all accepted the challenge.
“Bring it on. We’ll accept it,” Wade said. “At the end of the day we know what’s important. And what’s important is winning ballgames and winning championships. So once you do that, winner take all.”
Tags: Chris bosh, Dwyane wade, Florida, Lebron james, Men's Basketball, Miami, Miami heat, Nba, North America, Professional Basketball, Sports Business, Sports Transactions, United States