A look at key moments in the career of LeBron James since his arrival in Miami on that fateful night in July 2010:
July 8: “The Decision,” the much-criticized, made-for-TV production on ESPN dedicated to James’ announcement on where he would sign, results in him taking a huge hit to his public image.
July 9: At an over-the-top news conference to introduce the Heat’s Big 3 of James, Dwyane Wade and Chris Bosh, James boldly says he joined Miami for, “not two, not three, not four, not five, not six, not seven,” championships.
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Oct. 26: Heat loses 88-80 to the Boston Celtics in the first game of the LeBron James Era in Miami. James scores 31 points but has eight turnovers. It sets Miami off on a disappointing 9-8 start, but the team turns it around quickly and wins 21 of its next 22 games.
June 12: Heat loses 105-95 to the Dallas Mavericks to fall 4-2 in the NBA Finals. James averages only three points in the fourth quarter. He averages 17.8 points per game, including a low of eight in Game 4.
Summer: James works on his game under the tutelage of Hakeem Olajuwon during the NBA lockout.
May 12: James wins his third NBA MVP Award in four seasons after leading the Heat to a 46-20 record in the lockout-shortened season.
June 21: James has a triple-double with 26 points, 11 rebounds and 13 assists to close out the Oklahoma City Thunder 4-1 and win his first NBA championship and first NBA Finals MVP award.
Aug. 12: James helps lead Team USA to the Olympic gold medal — his second after also winning one in 2008.
Feb. 23-March 25: The Heat wins 27 games in a row for the second-longest winning streak in NBA history, falling short of the record by six games. After the streak ends in a 101-97 loss at the Chicago Bulls, the team loses only one of its remaining 11 games in the regular season.
June 20: James leads the Heat to its second consecutive NBA title, with 37 points and 12 rebounds in Game 7 against the San Antonio Spurs, capping its best season (66-16) in franchise history. James wins his second Finals MVP award in a row.
June 15: The Heat loses to the Spurs in five games in an NBA Finals rematch that features the infamous “air conditioning game” in San Antontio in which James cramped up and was unable to finish the game. The Finals loss causes a backlash from some fans, prompting team president Pat Riley to say “get a grip” at the closing news conference.
June 24: LeBron James decides to opt out of his Heat contract, becoming a free agent.
June 26: The Heat selects Shabazz Napier, the player James coveted, in the NBA Draft.
June 28-29: Udonis Haslem, Dwyane Wade and Chris Bosh opt out of their Heat contracts.
July 1: Start of free agency.
July 9: James meets with Riley in Las Vegas to discuss his plans for the future, which include the possibility of leaving Miami to rejoin his hometown Cleveland Cavaliers.
July 10: First day contracts are allowed to be signed.
July 11: LeBron James announces in a statement he will return to the Cleveland Cavaliers.
– SCOTT MAGOLOFF