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LeBron 'King' James picks Miami Heat, who sell out season tickets

By the CNN Wire Staff
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LeBron James arrives in Miami
  • NEW: LeBron James visits Miami Friday
  • The Heat have sold out their initial allotment of season tickets
  • The Cavs owner blasts James' decision as "cowardly betrayal"
  • James announces he is leaving Cleveland to join all-stars Dwyane Wade and Chris Bosh in Miami

Miami, Florida (CNN) -- NBA superstar LeBron James arrived in the Miami area Friday, the morning after he spurned the Cleveland Cavaliers for the Miami Heat.

Southern Florida's newest VIP is causing a stir already. The Heat announced it has sold out its "currently available" season ticket inventory. After "extremely brisk" sales over the past couple of weeks, sales peaked "in a new intensity the last couple of days," Heat President of Business Operations Eric Woolworth said in a press release.

Since Wednesday, James and his fellow U.S. Olympian and perennial NBA all-star Chris Bosh have committed to leaving their old teams to join the Heat and its star, Dwyane Wade.

Wade led the Heat to the 2006 NBA championship and has agreed to re-sign with Miami and Bosh was a standout with the Toronto Raptors. Wade said Bosh's decision made it easy for him and James to choose their destinations.

"When Chris Bosh said he wanted to be down here in Miami, I think that opened up the floodgates for all of us to say, 'You know what? This is the time to do something in history that hasn't been done,' and that's all three players of this caliber come together in their prime to do something amazing." Wade said.

"We're going to be a really good team," James said.

James, who joined the Cavaliers straight out of high school and played forward for the team for his entire career, announced his decision during a much-ballyhooed ESPN special Thursday entitled "The Decision."

Video: LeBron James picks Miami Heat
Video: Heated Cavs fans burn jersey
Video: Dwyane Wade on landing LeBron
Video: Fan: 'I'm in total shock right now'

The reigning two-time NBA MVP said a conversation with his mother Thursday morning sealed the deal.

"I think I decided this morning," James said. "Then I talked with my mom. Once I had that conversation with her I think I was set."

James looked at several teams, including New York, Chicago and Cleveland. It came down to one thing.

"The major factor was the best opportunity to win now and to win in the future." James said. He led the Cavaliers to the NBA finals in 2007, where they lost to the San Antonio Spurs, but never reached the finals again, despite Cleveland management bringing in supporting stars such as Shaquille O'Neal and Antawn Jamison.

During "The Decision," ESPN switched briefly to sports bars in Miami and Cleveland to summarize the thrill of victory and the agony of defeat.

A few Cavs fans wasted no time in burning James jerseys in a small fire.

Cavs owner Dan Gilbert called James' decision a "cowardly betrayal" and a "shocking act of disloyalty" in a letter posted on the team's website Thursday night. He then added, in all capital letters:


Miami fans were elated.

"I think this is the best thing since sliced bread. Are you serious?" said Christina Onori. "I think this is the most unbelievable thing to happen to Miami, ever."

Woolworth said non-season ticket holders will still get to see the Heat's trio of superstars, because "in contrast to past practice, we have determined not to sell any season tickets in our 400 level this season and will reserve that inventory for some combination of group tickets, partial plans and variably priced individual game tickets... to provide access to as much of our community as possible."

He added that fans interested in season tickets could be placed on a waiting list "as we anticipate the release of additional inventory in the near future."

The Heat's new power trio wasn't the only reason for the rush on season tickets, which began weeks earlier, before James, Bosh or Wade had committed to the Miami. The team pledged in February that "while we were holding the pricing flat for our loyal returning season ticket holders, it was our intention to raise our season ticket prices for new buyers in July." said Woolworth.

Besides the Heat, the Boys and Girls Club of America and Twitter were beneficiaries of James' decision.

The club expected to receive about $2.5 million in support from the show and related activities.

"The money will be used to support James' vision to construct basketball courts for youth across the country," the Atlanta-based organization said.

James had more than 345,000 followers, and counting, on his "KingJames" Twitter account Thursday evening.

CNN's Emanuella Grinberg contributed to this report.