Yesterday, LeBron James, Chris Bosh and Dwayne Wade signed six-year contracts… it’s a done deal… they are members of the Miami Heat. The Heat completed sign-and-trade deals with Cleveland and Toronto on Friday night for their two newest superstars. 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. James, Bosh and Dwyane Wade all signed six-year contracts Friday night, each leaving millions of dollars on the table in order to provide the Heat flexibility to build a championship roster. Each player took $15 million less over the life of the contract to sign with Miami – none would say how much less – to get the deals done. All three contracts, have an early termination option after the fourth season that would allow LeBron, Bosh and Wade to return to free agency in the summer of 2014. King 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.” With 13,000 fans chanting “Yes We Did!” amid an atmosphere more suited to a rock concert than a basketball game, the Miami Heat welcomed the NBA’s newest trio of superstars Friday night for a celebration unlike just about any other in team history.
“I understand now that I’ve made the right decision,” James said. A packed arena, plus another 10,000 or so outside the building, couldn’t have been more thrilled to hear James say those words. As they cheered their new king, he 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. “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. “It’s still surreal, man,” Wade said. “Me, Chris and ‘Bron. We ready. We want to go to the gym now.” Next up for the Miami braintrust: Deals for Mike Miller and Udonis Haslem, both expected to be done in the coming days, and a planned meeting with Lakers point guard Derek Fisher. 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.” On Friday in Miami, the scene was sheer bliss. James’ jerseys weren’t even going on hangers inside the Miami team store; for the most part, they were getting sold as soon as they could be taken out of the box. A line of fans snaked around the arena on a steamy morning just to put their names on a waiting list for tickets. The switchboard at AmericanAirlines Arena was overwhelmed for much of the day, and the seats for the welcoming bash were made available online at 4 p.m. — and were gone in an hour. “The road to history,” James wrote early Friday on Twitter, “starts now.”
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