LeBron transforms Heat into instant powerhouse

TORONTO, (Reuters) – The decision by LeBron James to join the Miami Heat along with Dwyane Wade and Chris Bosh creates an instant powerhouse that will be expected by many to rule the NBA for years to come.

In the span of a little more than 24 hours, the league saw  three of its most dominant players agree to play for the Heat,  which instantly makes the team a legitimate contender to deny the Los Angeles Lakers a third straight championship.

So after months of speculation that heated up when James’s  Cleveland Cavaliers fell to the Boston Celtics in the Eastern  Conference semi-finals this year, the two-times reigning NBA Most Valuable Player opted for a change of scenery.

“The things that the Miami Heat franchise have done to be  able to free up cap space and to be able to put themselves in a  position this summer to have all three of us, it was hard to  turn down,” James said Thursday in a interview on cable network  ESPN.

“This is going to give me the best opportunity to win and  to win for multiple years, and not only just to win in the  regular season … I want to be able to win championships and I  feel like I can compete down there.”

The Heat, who were eliminated from the first round of the  playoffs in April, now boast three players who were among the  top 10 in points per game last season. No one team had three  players in the top 30 in scoring last season.

James, Wade and Bosh all entered the league in 2003 and  their last contracts were structured in a way that allowed them  all to hit the open market at the same time.

Wade, who has played his entire career in Miami, said on  Wednesday he would stick with the team while Bosh decided to  leave the Toronto Raptors, who drafted him fourth overall in  2003, for Miami.

James, the most prized free agent available who was courted  by six teams in the past week, completes a powerful trio and  easily makes the team an immediate threat in the league.

Still, assembling the three on the one roster is no sure  recipe for success. To even get a shot at an NBA title they  will have to contend with a competitive Eastern Conference that  includes the 2008 NBA champion Boston Celtics, the Orlando  Magic and Atlanta Hawks.

“It’s going to be interesting to see how well they play  together,” Raptors head coach Jay Triano told Reuters. “There  is only one basketball and someone is going to have to make  sacrifices if they are going to be better and it will be  interesting to see how they try to make that happen.”

The three talented players were all part of the 2008 gold  medal-winning U.S. basketball team at the 2008 Beijing Olympics  and will be expected to show the same winning form in Miami.

The decisions by James and Bosh to flee their former teams  deal major blows to the Cleveland and Toronto franchises, both  of whom will need to make up for the lost offensive  production.

With their marquee players gone, they will undoubtedly  suffer from sagging attendance.

It also breaks the hearts of many Cavaliers fans who had  hoped James, born in Akron, Ohio, would return to Cleveland and  help bring the franchise its first NBA championship.

“I don’t even see it like leaving Cleveland is the whole  logistics of it,” said James. “It’s about joining forces with  the other two guys. I felt like I respected their game the most  and I felt like we have a great chance of winning and winning  for multiple years.”

After the announcement, some people burned replica number  23 James jerseys in the Cleveland’s city streets.

Wade, who led the Heat to a championship in 2006 is the  only one of the group to win an NBA title. Bosh has never been  past the first round of the playoffs with the Raptors and the  closest James has been to a championship is a four-game sweep  in the 2007 Finals.

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