LeBron James agrees to 4-year, $154M contract with Lakers - KMOV.com

LeBron James agrees to 4-year, $154M contract with Lakers

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(Photo by Jason Miller/Getty Images) (Photo by Jason Miller/Getty Images)

LOS ANGELES (AP/CNN) — LeBron James is leaving home for Hollywood and an iconic team.

The Los Angeles Lakers have a new superstar — L.A.-Bron.

The four-time NBA MVP announced Sunday night that he has agreed to a four-year, $154 million contract with the Lakers, joining one of the league's most storied franchises and switching conferences to try and dethrone the Golden State Warriors and grow his own legacy.

For the second time in his career, James is saying goodbye to the Cleveland Cavaliers, who drafted the teenage sensation from Akron in 2003 and have to be satisfied with winning just one title in the 11 years they had him.

Unlike his two previous forays in free agency, James did not drag out his decision and made the announcement less than 24 hours after NBA free agency opened.

This Summer of LeBron was barely a fling.

His management agency, Klutch Sports Group, announced his agreement with the Lakers in a release. It was a stark contrast from eight years ago, when a poorly conceived TV special to announce his departure from Cleveland backfired and damaged James' image.

The game's biggest star will now lead a young Lakers team — run by Lakers Hall of Famer Magic Johnson — that has been overmatched in recent years while rebuilding. But the Lakers will instantly rise with James, a three-time champion who after being swept by the Warriors in this year's NBA Finals said he is still driven and very much in "championship mode."

The Lakers' legacy is something that appealed to James and it wasn't long after his announcement that he heard from Kobe Bryant, who won five titles during 20 seasons with Los Angeles.

"Welcome to the family @KingJames," Bryant said on Twitter . "#lakers4life #striveforgreatness."

Los Angeles will also provide James with a larger platform for his business interests and social activism. He already owns two homes in Southern California and has a film production company.

This is the third time in eight years James has changed teams. After bolting from Cleveland in 2010, he returned in an emotional homecoming four years later, determined to make the Cavs champions. The 33-year-old had previously said he wanted to finish his career in Ohio, and although he's leaving again, Cavs fans are more forgiving after he ended the city's 52-year sport title drought in 2016.

Shortly after the announcement, which came in a surprising manner, James posted a three-photo tribute to Cleveland fans on his Instagram account.

"Thank you Northeast Ohio for an incredible four seasons," James wrote. "This will always be home."

But there will always be a portion of Cleveland fans disappointed that James left again and that he wouldn't give the Cavs a longer commitment. His deal with the Lakers is his longest since he signed for six years with Miami in 2010.

James informed the Cavs on Friday that he was not exercising his $35.6 million option and becoming a free agent. While in Los Angeles following a family vacation, he spoke to Cavs general manager Koby Altman moments after free agency opened on Sunday, and it appears that was more a courtesy than a chance for Cleveland to make one last pitch.

The decision to join the Lakers was not a surprise to his innermost circle, with one person telling AP that it had been presumed for some time that he was headed to Los Angeles next season. The person spoke on condition of anonymity because no one authorized that detail be released publicly.

James gave Cleveland something to remember in his final season. He played in all 82 regular-season games and then somehow carried a team that underwent several transformations to a fourth straight conference title and matchup against the Warriors.

As has been the case in the past, James didn't have enough help as the Cavs were swept, dropping him to 3-6 in the NBA Finals — a record sometimes used to compare him to Michael Jordan.

His stay with the Cavaliers will best be remembered for 2016, when he rallied the Cavs from a 3-1 deficit in the finals to stun the Warriors. James helped seal a Game 7 win with a chase-down block of Andre Iguodala, the signature moment of a career that has shown no signs of decay.

With the Lakers, James will be playing in the Western Conference for the first time and just down the Pacific Coast Highway from the Warriors, the team that has stymied him three times in the past four finals.

The chance to play for one of America's most storied franchises was appealing to James, who prides himself on knowing the game's history. In Los Angeles, championships are the standard and he'll feel new pressure in upholding the legacies of Johnson, Bryant, Kareem Abdul-Jabbar, Jerry West and other Lakers greats.

Here's a look at the life of basketball player LeBron James.

Birthdate: December 30, 1984

Birthplace: Akron, Ohio

Birth name: LeBron Raymone James

Father: Anthony McClelland

Mother: Gloria James

Marriage: Savannah (Brinson) James (September 2013-present)

Children: Zhuri Nova, Bryce Maximus and LeBron Jr.

Other Facts:
James also played football in high school.

Runs a non-profit organization called Family Foundation, which helps needy children in his hometown area.

Has been named the NBA's Most Valuable Player four times (2009, 2010, 2012, 2013).

Has been to the NBA All-Star Game every year since 2005.

Named the NBA Finals MVP three times (2012, 2013, 2016).

Is nicknamed "King James."

Is the youngest player in NBA history to reach 30,000 career points.

Has played for the US national team in the 2004, 2008, and 2012 Olympics. They won gold in 2008 and 2012.

Owned a very small stake in Beats Electronics, which was sold to Apple, Inc. for $3 billion in June 2014, reportedly netting him around $30 million in cash and stocks.

2000 - Helps lead high school team to the state championship. They won the championship three of the four seasons he played.

February 18, 2002 - James is featured on the cover of Sports Illustrated with the words, "The Chosen One."

June 26, 2003 - Is chosen No. 1 overall by the Cleveland Cavaliers in the NBA draft.

2004 - Earns the Eddie Gottlieb Trophy as Rookie Player of the Year.

March 27, 2004 - Becomes the youngest NBA player to score more than 40 points in a game. He scores 41 points against the New Jersey Nets.

August 2004 - Makes his first Olympics appearance for the US national team.

November 27, 2004 - Becomes the youngest NBA player to score 2,000 points in their career.

February 8, 2005 - Is named a starter for the NBA's Eastern Conference All-Star Team.

March 20, 2005 - Becomes the youngest NBA player to score more than 50 points in a game. He scores 56 against the Toronto Raptors.

February 19, 2006 - Is named to the All-Star Team again and becomes the youngest MVP of the game.

July 10, 2010 - Announces he is leaving the Cavaliers to become part of the Miami Heat.

June 21, 2012 - The Miami Heat win the NBA Finals, marking James' first championship.

January 16, 2013 - Becomes the youngest NBA player to score 20,000 points.

June 24, 2014 - Chooses to become a free agent.

July 11, 2014 - James tells Sports Illustrated that he'll leave the Miami Heat for the Cleveland Cavaliers.

December 7, 2015 - Nike confirms that it has signed a lifetime deal with James.

June 19, 2016 - The Cleveland Cavaliers defeat the Golden State Warriors 93-89 in a deciding Game 7 to win the NBA Championship. James is unanimously named the Finals MVP; his performance helps the Cavaliers capture the first major sports championship that a Cleveland team has won since 1964.

May 25, 2017 - James passes Michael Jordan as the NBA's all-time playoff scoring leader with 5,995 points. Jordan's record of 5,987 held for 20 years.

May 31, 2017 - Police tell CNN that a racist slur was spray-painted on the front gate of James' Los Angeles home. At a press conference in Oakland, California, James comments on the state of race relations in the United States. "No matter how much money you have, no matter how famous you are, no matter how many people admire you, being black in America is tough."

January 23, 2018 - Becomes the seventh, and youngest, player in NBA history to score 30,000 points. The only other players who have eclipsed 30,000 points are Kareem Abdul-Jabbar, Karl Malone, Kobe Bryant, Wilt Chamberlain, Michael Jordan and Dirk Nowitzki.

June 2018 - Is ranked number six on Forbes' list of the world's highest paid athletes.

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