Bosh stays with Heat

7/12/2014

By JOSEPH GOODMAN

By JOSEPH GOODMAN

The Miami Herald

(MCT) — LeBron James is going home — but Chris Bosh will remain in Miami to pick up the pieces.

James confirmed Friday he's returning to the team where he started his career, the Cavaliers.

James' decision had put the Heat's free agency plans on hold for several intense days, but the rebuilding process moved quickly for team president Pat Riley after the stunning announcement. It didn't take long for Bosh — who all along said he wanted to stay in Miami — to sign off on a return to the Heat with what Yahoo! Sports reported was a five-year, $118 million deal.

Wade and Udonis Haslem were expected to re-sign with the Heat.

Of course, Bosh's return was only a consolation prize to the day's big loss. James finished his essay on SI.com by explaining he wanted to set a good example for the children in Northeast Ohio by returning to the region. Northeast Ohio and Rust Belt in general have struggled with population decline for decades. When James left Cleveland for Miami, it was a symbolic move of a systemic problem.

"My presence can make a difference in Miami, but I think it can mean more where I'm from," James said. "I want kids in Northeast Ohio, like the hundreds of Akron third-graders I sponsor through my foundation, to realize that there's no better place to grow up."

James said in his letter that he "will always think of Miami as my second home."

Back in that second home, James' decision to leave Miami took the Heat by surprise. At the beginning of free agency, many inside the franchise were confident James would return to the Heat. Riley famously told anyone who would listen "to get a grip" in a news conference before the start of free agency.

In the minutes after James' decision went public, though, it seemed like the Heat was trying to grasp what had just happened.

"I am shocked and disappointed in today's news," Heat owner Micky Arison said on Twitter. "However I will never forget what LeBron brought us for four years. Thanks for memories @KingJames."

It was a classy message from Arison, whose basketball franchise benefited greatly from James' four years with the team. James led the Heat to back-to-back championships in 2012 and 2013 and helped the team reach the NBA Finals four years in a row. During that time he elevated the profile of the city, moved the Heat into the upper echelon of NBA franchises and gave Miami its single greatest run by a professional sports team.

In a press release, the Miami Downtown Development Authority credited James with helping rebuild the area.

"Downtown Miami's resurgence was well underway before The Big 3 arrived, gained momentum alongside four consecutive championship runs, and won't be slowing down anytime soon," said executive director Alyce Robertson. "LeBron's decision to take his talents to downtown Miami in 2010 was rocket fuel for our city's global brand, and we're grateful for his contributions over the past four years."

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