This is home for LeBron James


LeBron kept his wife's pregnancy with their third child private as long as he could this spring. He was overjoyed. He loves children. But there's only so much the world needs to know about his personal life. So whenever he was asked about it during the playoffs, he shut down the question with a simple, "That's a private matter."

Riley, though, never got that memo. At his season-ending news conference after the Heat's loss to San Antonio in the Finals, Riley disclosed that the couple was expecting a baby girl.

In the same breath that he referred to this team as a "family" and its players as "brothers," Riley revealed that he was unaware the James family had preferred to keep this news in-house.

James was already vacationing in the Caribbean by the time Riley was famously telling everyone to "get a grip" and arguing that this superteam needed to be retooled, not rebuilt over the summer. It was a speech he would have preferred to give to LeBron directly. But their exit meeting two days earlier had been remarkably short, as LeBron seemed itchy to leave and begin his vacation with the families of teammates Ray Allen and James Jones.

LeBron opted out of the final two years of his contract on June 23, one day after returning from that vacation. It was a week earlier than required, but at the time, the gesture was perceived as a courtesy to the Heat, the rest of the league and teammates Wade and Bosh, who also had to decide whether to opt out.

The trio met for a long lunch in a private dining room at the chic South Beach restaurant Soho House on June 25. All three expressed a desire to return to the Heat and a willingness to work together on a financial structure to make that happen. But Wade and Bosh left without knowing LeBron's exact plans.

Still, at that time it was assumed that all three would simply re-sign with Miami. Bosh left on a four-week vacation around the world on June 30, traveling to and posting pictures from the United Arab Emirates, Sri Lanka, the Seychelles and Ghana along the way.


LeBron stepped back to weigh his options. He and his advisers knew this time around that they had to do things differently from 2010. Yes, people would be disappointed after he announced his decision. The teams he spurned would be angry. But there was a right way to let them know -- and the awful way they did it in 2010.

The plan was for his agent, Rich Paul, to handle all the business matters while LeBron got away to clear his head and reconnect with his family. Cleveland had always been in the back of his mind. A return to the Heat was still possible. Paul also took meetings with the Bulls, Lakers, Suns, Rockets and Mavericks.

The opt-out gave Riley the opportunity to retool, maybe add a point guard like Kyle Lowry or a small forward like Luol Deng or Ariza. They traded up to draft Shabazz Napier, a feisty point guard whom James had tweeted admiration for during the NCAA tournament.

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