A prediction by ESPN's Chris Broussard early Thursday that James would join Wade and Bosh to sign with the Miami Heat caused shares of the New York Knicks' parent company, Madison Square Garden Incorporated, to drop.
The stock had gone up after it was announced James would air his decision live on ESPN from the Boys & Girls Club in Greenwich, Connecticut, not far from New York City. The broadcast benefitted The Boys & Girls Clubs of America.
"It just shows you how front and center this two-year odyssey of where he's going to go has become," Brad Adgate, a media analyst at Horizon Media, told ABC News Radio.
The Cleveland Cavaliers tried to retain James' talents and offered the lure of continuing to play for his hometown team.
Betty White, star of the sitcom "Hot in Cleveland," taped public appeals for James to stay at home, and members of the media have noted James' departure likely would be an economic jolt to the Cavaliers and the city of Cleveland, where he has been a huge draw.
But representatives of teams in larger markets also courted James with a barrage of big-city glitz.
The New Jersey Nets brought rap superstar Jay-Z, a minority partner with the team, and Mikhail Prokhorov, the team's principal owner who is one of the world's richest men -- and the suggestion of an international marketing push behind James.
The New York Knicks suggested James picture his name in big-city lights alongside a superstar or two to be named later, and Mayor Michael Bloomberg made a personal appeal for James to come to New York.
The Chicago Bulls, the team where Michael Jordan starred, also came calling.
The Heat brought Riley, a legendary and charismatic former coach, to the table, and then the prospect of playing alongside Wade and Bosh.
Through it all, James' inner circle was able to keep his decision under wraps until the end -- though he didn't do it without being coy.
Earlier in the day Thursday, James invited his followers on Twitter (@KingJames) to submit questions in advance about his announcement along with the tag #lebrondecision. (The invitation proved irresitable to jokers like @kenrwhittaker, who replied "Apple is releasing a special edition @kingjames iPhone. Problem is, it only vibrates b/c it doesn't have a RING".)
One wag even started Tweeting as James' ego (@LeBronJamesEgo). One typical tweet reads: "CHECK IT - I'M NOT ALWAYS BOUT ME I'M GONNA SAVE ONE ANIMAL FROM THE BP OIL SPILL AND NAME IT LEBRON JR. WHO WILL BE THE LUCKY SEA TURTLE???"
Yet through it all, the selection remained a secret.
"There've been no leaks," said Will Leitch, founder of the sports web site Deadspin.com and a contributing editor for New York magazine. "Every 'leak' has been contradicted by another 'leak' moments later."
If the goal of speculation, analysis, reading of tea leaves and finally, a prime time special, is to maximize attention, Adgate, of Horizon Media, said it has worked for James.
"He's become bigger than the sport," Adgate said. "He thought he could pull this off and he's doing it."
Adgate believes James is as clever as another famous person who is her own brand.
"What Oprah Winfrey has done for talk shows and being a savvy mainstream personality, Lebron James is doing the same thing with sports," he said.
Adgate expected 20 million people to watch James' primetime announcement, more than watched the NBA finals.