LOS ANGELES, July 9- The NBA's reigning two-time MVP LeBron James ended months of suspense and guess work Thursday by announcing he is leaving the Cleveland Cavaliers to sign with the Miami Heat.James’ decision to leave his hometown and head south to Florida to play alongside Dwyane Wade and Chris Bosh gives the Heat one of the most dynamic power trios in league history.
"The attraction in Miami is being alongside Dwyane Wade and being alongside Chris Bosh. It is a new challenge for myself," James said.
"The major factor was this is the best opportunity for me to win and win now and in the future. The number one thing with me is to help my teammates get better and to win."
James, Bosh and Wade turned professional in the same season and were the number one, fourth and fifth players chosen in the 2003 entry draft.
James ended up in Cleveland, Wade in Miami and Bosh headed north to Canada and the Toronto Raptors.
Wade is the lone one to have won a championship, teamming up with Shaquille O’Neal in 2006 for the NBA title.
The trio also captured gold medals together at the 2008 Beijing Olympics and James is hoping to do the same in Miami.
"Knowing the history of the game. Look at all the teams that won, the Lakers teams, the Piston teams, the Bulls teams, the Celtics teams. It wasn’t just one superstar going out on the court and dominating the game and winning an NBA championship," James said.
"When Magic played he had Kareem and Worthy. Jordan was great but he had Pippen and he also had Horace Grant. I could keep on going. You become a superstar individually but you become a champion as a team. I understand that and I know the history of this game."
James said he is taking less money to play in Miami than he would have made had he stayed in Cleveland.
"I am not getting the max deal," he said. "The max deal would have been to stay in Cleveland get the six years and get over 120 million.
"The numbers are not finalized. All three of us are going to take less because we want to play alongside each other."
The reaction in Cleveland to James’ departure was swift and passionate. Television pictures showed Cavalier fans burning James’ jerseys in anger.
Asked to react to the perceived snub towards his hometown Cleveland, James said, "I can’t get involved in that.
"I feel awful about leaving.
"I didn’t want to make an emotional decision. Put the shoe on the other foot. If the Cavs got rid of me would my family burn down the organization? Of course not. This is a business. I had seven great years. I am going to continue to be happy and great."
Free agents James, Wade and Bosh were wined and dined by teams who spared no expense in trying to convince them to change teams. Now there is speculation about whether Miami is big enough for the three stars to co-exist on the Heat.
"It isn’t about sharing. It is about everybody having their own spotlight and then going out and winning," James said.
Said Wade, "We dreamed of playing together for many years but none of us thought it could happen. We all knew there had to be sacrifices to make.
"I let LeBron and Chris know they were welcome here with open arms."
James convinced American sports television broadcaster ESPN to air his decision on where he will play next season in a live one-hour special Thursday evening.
The 25-year-old American decided to test the free agency market this summer. The NBA’s moratorium on signing free agents expired on Thursday.
Wearing a collar shirt and blue jeans, James arrived at the Boys and Girls Club in Greenwich, Connecticut and entered through a side door, skipping past the crowd outside.
The crowd of several hundred people chanted "New York Knicks, New York Knicks," then switched to "LeBron James."
The former first round draft pick is the biggest star to become a free agent in almost 15 years. The last time there was this much hype surrounding a free agent player was when Shaquille O’Neal decided to join the Los Angeles Lakers in 1996.
James met with six clubs that hoped to sign him, comprising the Heat, Cleveland, Chicago Bulls, New Jersey Nets, New York Knicks and the Los Angeles Clippers.
James said he didn’t make up his mind until Thursday morning after a talk with his mother.
"I went day-to-day," he said. "I would wake up and one morning it was this team and I wake up another morning and it was this team. I had a great conversation with my mom."
Said Bosh Thursday, "Oh man, this is incredible. I am ready to get this going."