After months of rumor and speculation, the most celebrated free agent in the history of the National Basketball Assn. has signed a five-year contract with the Miami Heat.
“I slept on it, made my decision and feel really good about it,” LeBron James told ESPN Thursday night in an hour-long special called The Decision. “Taking my talents to South Beach and joining the Miami Heat gives me the best opportunity to win championships. I look forward to playing with Dwyane Wade and Chris Bosh. We have a good team.”
But before work, all three will spend the next two days celebrating in Miami.
Bosh had dinner at Mr. Chow in the W South Beach hotel Thursday night with Michael Bay and some politicians, where they watched LeBron s announcement on TV, a source tells PEOPLE. “They were waiting for their boy to arrive later from Connecticut for a massive celebration.”
James, Bosh and Wade will attend a rally at Miami Heat stadium in the American Airlines Arena Friday night. Then they will continue the party on South Beach.
‘Took Less Money’
After playing seven years with the Cleveland Cavaliers, Ohio-raised James, 25, knows he is making a big jump by moving to Miami, where he says he “took less money” to play with fellow All-Stars Wade, a seven-year Miami Heat superstar, and Bosh, the power forward who left Toronto Raptors this week to sign with the Heat.
In a statement, Miami Heat President Pat Riley said he is looking forward to building something that fans in Miami can be proud of for a long, long time. “The journey is just beginning,” he said.
Miami Heat fans are thrilled about a dynasty in the making, including the owner of the Fontainebleau, where James has stayed several times during recent trips to Miami Beach.
“The Fontainebleau was host to the legendary Rat Pack, today we are thrilled to welcome Miami s new Rat Pack: Wade, Bosh and James,” Jeff Soffer, owner of the legendary resort, tells PEOPLE.
Diddy, who tweeted earlier that he thought James would sign with the New York Knicks, got onboard with a late Thurs. night cheer: “Ok, I can handle Miami!! It s my second home!!! Lets go!!!!”
“Yes, it s huge, huge, huge,” Anthony Kennedy Shriver, Chairman of Best Buddies International in Miami Beach, tells PEOPLE. “I love it for the city, for the team, and for the Heat fans around the world – get on the bus while there is still room!”