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Sports

June 25, 2014

LeBron opts out: Heat is on Pat Riley

(Continued)

“No news here yet,” Wade said yesterday.

James stayed silent as well, with agent Rich Paul being the one who informed the Heat of the four-time NBA MVP’s plan. But last week, while still dealing with the sting of losing the NBA Finals to San Antonio, James expressed how enticing the idea of flexibility is to him.

“Being able to have flexibility as a professional, anyone, that’s what we all would like,” James said last week. “That’s in any sport, for a football player, a baseball player, a basketball player, to have flexibility and be able to control your future or your present. I have a position to be able to do that. ... There’s a lot of times that you’re not in control of your future as a professional.”

He’s in control now. He turns 30 next season. He might just be entering his prime.

And while opting out was largely expected, the ripple effect of James’ move was seen all over the sports world.

The NFL, on its Twitter account, posted a photo of James dunking a football over the crossbar at the stadium his beloved Dallas Cowboys call home, light-heartedly asking him if he wanted to pass some time in a training camp while making his decision. And U.S. Soccer, also in a tweet, said it has a new team for him — then attached a photo of men’s national team jersey bearing James’ name and No. 6.

Even hockey got into the act.

“You know, you’d be 6-10 on skates,” someone posted to the Carolina Hurricanes’ Twitter account, in a message to James.

For now, all that seems certain is James sticking to basketball. What team, that’s now up for debate.

He’s been with the Heat four seasons, been to the NBA Finals in each of those years, winning two championships and winning more games than any other team over that span. He seems to have largely recovered from the hit his image took when he left Cleveland for Miami in 2010, often saying he’s much happier now as a person than he was then.

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