But once July 1 arrived, the Miami Heat simply made a more persuasive pitch.
“I feel like every team that was looking for a change had hope,” James said Friday night before the Heat faced the Knicks. “For me, I weighed out the process and the Knicks were part of that process. At the end of the day I decided to go to the Heat.”
James hosted the Cleveland Cavaliers and the other five teams that were hoping to sign him over three days once free agency opened. The meeting with the Heat, plus his chats with Wade and Chris Bosh, convinced him that his road to titles was through South Florida.
“It was just the message I got from Miami,” James said. “The message I got from Miami was everything I needed to hear. The system, the coaching, the organization, and D-Wade and CB being good friends of mine, I thought it was the best fit for me.”
New Yorkers were sure it was the Knicks. James has always said how much he loves playing in Madison Square Garden, and figured if he did leave the Cavaliers and his native Ohio, he wouldn’t be able to resist the business opportunities that would await him if he could bring the Knicks back to the top.
For a while, Wade bought into that hype, too.
“Maybe when I first heard it, from everybody in New York that thought they had him here, I was like, ‘OK, maybe. Maybe it’s possible,’” Wade said. “With the big stage, I know he likes the big stage, the big city. Of course, if you’re a star in New York, you’re a worldwide star, but after a while it was a lot of possibilities.”
“I don’t think they really wanted me here anyway,” Wade said.
Maybe not, but they definitely wanted James, essentially using two seasons to set themselves up to afford him and one other superstar when the summer 2010 free agency opened.
“It wasn’t just the New York Knicks, it was the five other teams that was on my radar,” James said. “I think Miami was the best chance for me to win. And I know D-Wade and we had some great conversations and I know Chris and we had some great conversations and ultimately that’s where I decided to go.”View Entire Story
By Elaine Donnelly
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