LeBron James decided against playing for the Chicago Bulls Thursday night.
Despite a last-minute pitch by new Bulls forward Carlos Boozer, James announced during his hour-long decision special on ESPN that he was joining pals Dwyane Wade and Chris Bosh on the Miami Heat.
"I'm going to take my talents to South Beach," James said late into his ESPN special from the Greenwich, Conn., offices of the Boys and Girls Club of America.
The announcement ends weeks of speculation -- many of which had the Bulls as front-runners -- about where the biggest free agent prize would land.
Via Twitter, new teammate Bosh reacted:
The Akron, Ohio native spent seven seasons with the nearby Cleveland Cavaliers and said the tough decision to leave home was one he'd just made Thursday morning.
"I feel like this is going to give me the best opportunity to win, and to win for multiple years," he said.
James’ decision also leaves the Bulls with a number of holes on their roster. Chicago, like the Knicks, Nets and Heat, spent much of the last season dumping players in order to make room under the salary cap in order to land a superstar.
The Bulls traded away captain Kirk Hinrich on draft night, along with their pick, in hopes of wooing James, Wade or Bosh.
"I remain convinced that this organization made the strongest of bids to acquire LeBron James during this free agency period," said Bulls General Manager Gar Forman in a statement.
Instead of landing one of the elite prizes, they ended up signing power forward Carlos Boozer to a five year contract worth around $76 million.
"Our strategy for the future competitiveness of this organization did not begin or end with James, and we feel today’s addition of two-time All-Star Carlos Boozer significantly strengthens our team's already talented roster," said Forman. "It is our goal to keep exploring every avenue that it may take, whether through trades or free agency, to continue to build this team to compete at a championship level."
The team currently has no shooting guard on the roster, and they’ll have to find one in free agency.