When the moment finally arrived, Miami's Dwyane Wade was as anxious as anyone.
His eyes locked toward the television set in a Miami Beach steakhouse, Wade stared at the image of LeBron James, knowing what was coming next would change the shape of the entire NBA.
"Miami Heat," James said.
With that, all of South Florida - Wade included - roared with delight.
"This is the beginning of new chapter in Heat history," Wade said. "And very exciting for both fans of the Miami Heat and the NBA."
Not everyone found it to be so exciting.
In Cleveland, fans burned James' jerseys. Cavaliers owner Dan Gilbert said James "quit" during the playoffs and should be accountable for his actions.
Gilbert, who posted a letter to Cavs fans on the team's website shortly after James announced his plans, told The Associated Press late Thursday night that he feels "personally betrayed" by James and that it's "accountability time."
In a phone interview with the AP, Gilbert said "people have covered up for (James) for way too long. Tonight we saw who he really is."
Gilbert said James quit on the Cavs during their second-round series against the Boston Celtics, who rallied from a 2-1 deficit to eliminate Cleveland.
In New Jersey, New York and Chicago - three other cities that thought they had done enough to land the two-time most valuable player - teams started moving to Plan B in this free-agent period like almost none other.
But in Miami, it was time to celebrate.
"This don't come around often," Wade said. "History in the making - but it'll only become history if we do what we came together to do, and that's win championships."
Miami entered free agency with hopes of keeping Wade, the most MVP of its run to the 2006 NBA title, and then pairing him with either Chris Bosh or James.
Heat president Pat Riley found a way to get them all.
"We are thrilled that LeBron James and Chris Bosh have decided to come to Miami to join forces with our truly great player, Dwyane Wade," Riley said. "We are looking forward to the opportunity of building something that our fans in Miami will be proud of for a long, long time."
The contracts were being worked on as soon as James made the announcement, but each player likely left some money on the bargaining table. Wade could have earned $125.5 million over the next six years; he told The Associated Press he would take less to make sure there was enough to pay James and Bosh.
Wade's agent, Henry Thomas, told the AP that he expected the deals to be signed Friday. Tentative plans were in place for a welcoming party at Miami's home arena Friday night. A slew of fans tried to beat the rush, jumping and dancing outside the front of the arena, even running into the streets between the honking cars.
"I don't think there's been a 48-hour period like this in the NBA before," Thomas told the AP.
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