Two-time NBA MVP LeBron James shunned loyalty and his hometown by announcing he would sign with the Miami Heat during a televised special tonight.
Miami likely will offer a 5-year contract worth $99 million. LeBron could have signed for six years and $128 million in Cleveland.
With the Heat, LeBron will join superstars Dwayne Wade and Chris Bosh, who committed to the team earlier this week.
The decision, which was supposed to be announced within the first 10 minutes of the 9 p.m. special, was not made until 9:27. ESPN didn't even go live to a visibly nervous LeBron until a little after 9:20.
LeBron's announcement to dedicate himself to winning instead of being loyal came at The Boys and Girls Club in Greenwich, Conn.
Shortly after, Bosh tweeted his pleasure of LeBron's decision. Wade later welcomed LeBron and Bosh to Miami.
The Akron native is the latest Cleveland sports star to leave the city after failing to win a championship. He joins Manny Ramirez, Albert Belle and Jim Thome. Other stars, such as Bernie Kosar, C.C. Sabathia, Victor Martinez and Cliff Lee, have been released or traded away during rebuilds.
But losing LeBron hurts more than any of the city's other losses, including the loss of the Cleveland Browns franchise in 1995. Some believe LeBron will replace Art Modell as the most hated man in Cleveland.
Just a few weeks ago, LeBron proclaimed that everything he does in his career is for the city Akron, but how does bolting for a team 1,200 miles away benefit Akron?
When asked about Cleveland, LeBron had a vague, emotionless response.
"It's hard to explain," LeBron said, later adding, "I never wanted to leave Cleveland."
No explanation would even cut it for Cavs fans, people who LeBron said he is "not sure" of what their reaction will be. Consider everything he did, and it's not hard to expect what most fans' reactions will be.
He had brought the city hope that it would win its first major sports championship since 1964.
He had brought the city to the NBA Finals in 2007.
He had brought the city an identity.
He had brought the city its first true superstar since Jim Brown in the 1960s.
Now, that is all gone, and the Cavs are left reeling, hoping to scrounge up a trade or sign a significant free agent in hopes of making the playoffs in the 2010-11 season.
All the while, the lasting image of its greatest superstar will be him ripping off his jersey after he virtually gave up on his team against Boston in the 2010 playoffs.