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Tuesday, October 21, 2014         

NATIONAL BASKETBALL ASSOCIATION


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End is near: LeBron will make decision tomorrow on ESPN

By Tom Withers / Associated Press

POSTED:


AKRON, Ohio » LeBron James' dramatic and historic free agency will have a fitting conclusion -- on TV.

ESPN reported last night that James will announce his future NBA plans during a one-hour special on its network at 9 p.m. (3 p.m. Hawaii time) tomorrow. ESPN's Chris Broussard said James' "representatives" contacted the network and asked for the unusual arrangement.

It is not known which team James will join or where the announcement will take place.

The two-time MVP and marquee name in a stellar free-agent class also featuring Dwyane Wade and Chris Bosh, recently met with six teams -- the Cleveland Cavaliers, Miami Heat, Chicago Bulls, Los Angeles Clippers, New York Knicks and New Jersey Nets.

Both James' publicist Keith Estabrook and ESPN spokesman Josh Krulewitz declined comment to the Associated Press.

Citing anonymous "independent sources," Broussard reported James' group requested they be allowed to sell sponsorship for the special with proceeds going to the Boys and Girls Clubs of America.

James' agent Leon Rose and business manager Maverick Carter did not return phone calls and e-mails from the AP seeking comment.

Earlier, all his fans got was a tweet out of James.

With the Summer of LeBron trudging along, James opened a Twitter account and posted his first message on the social networking site.

Estabrook confirmed the superstar joined Twitter, a place where Wade and Bosh often post details about their public lives off the floor.

In the past, James poked fun at athletes for giving details of their daily routines on Twitter and Facebook, but at the prodding of New Orleans guard Chris Paul, his U.S. Olympic teammate and closest friend in the league, the two-time MVP decided it was time to join the fun.

After arriving for the second day of his skills academy that is hosting many of the nation's top high school and college stars yesterday four hours later than expected, James spent six hours at Rhodes Arena in meetings and playing ball with several Cavaliers teammates against high school campers before heading home. He didn't speak to reporters before pulling away in his customized Dodge pickup.

"That's the question," Cavs teammate Daniel Gibson said when asked what he thinks James will do. "I don't know. I'm here with the hanging-out, having-fun LeBron. I'm not out here with the business LeBron."

James' plans still are a closely guarded secret. Until his announcement, other teams are positioning themselves to make a run at the 6-foot-8, 260-pound All-Star -- or Bosh or Wade, or maybe a combination.

There have been various reports that Toronto was working on a sign-and-trade deal with Cleveland for Bosh, and that James is trying to convince him to join the Cavaliers.

However, a person familiar with the talks said the Cavs have spoken to the Raptors and several other teams but that no players have been discussed and nothing is close to being finalized. The person spoke on condition of anonymity because of the sensitivity of the negotiations.

Cleveland can offer James a maximum-length deal worth $30 million more than any other team. But if they re-sign him, the Cavs would have no more money to sign a player of Bosh's stature unless they open room under the salary cap. Teams can not sign players before tomorrow, one day after the new salary-cap figure is announced.

With all this swirling around him, James seemed as cool as ever when he arrived for his camp as outside temperatures hit 94 degrees.

Dressed in a white Nike T-shirt and orange shorts, he entered the building just as the college players were finishing their second session of the day. He shook a few hands and plopped down on a sideline table before moving to a courtside chair, where he was joined shortly after by his two young sons, LeBron Jr. and Bryce.

As their dad was in meetings with Nike executives, the two boys wrestled for the basketball and took shots on the floor.





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