July 9, 2010 -- NBA superstar LeBron James sat down with "Good Morning America" anchor Robin Roberts shortly after announcing his long-awaited decision to leave the Cleveland Cavaliers for the Miami Heat. The following transcript of their interview has been edited for clarity.
ROBIN ROBERTS: You take a big breath now?
LEBRON JAMES: Yeah, absolutely
ROBERTS: Are you relieved that the decision has been made public?
JAMES: I am relieved. But this is everything that I envisioned-- and not (unintelligible) destination where I'm headed, which is Miami, but the whole process.
The whole process has been very humbling. You know, the fans that I have across the world has -- has given me support throughout this whole thing and my friends and family. It's been everything I expected.
ROBERTS: When you say "the process," describe a little bit more to it because a lot of people in all walks of life that have that tough decision they have to make in their lives, how did you go about making it for yourself?
JAMES: Well, you start with hearing everyone -- and hearing the six teams that I had. I had the Clippers and the Bulls, the Knicks, the Nets, the Heat, and the Cavs.
And I wanted to hear what they had to say on how they envisioned myself being a part of their franchise. But the process also came down to me sitting down with my friends and my family and saying, you know, the pros versus the cons and, you know, this city versus that city or whatever the case may be.
ROBERTS: You pulled up a sheet and did the old pros and cons thing?
JAMES: (Laughs) Yeah, absolutely. Absolutely. Tore the paper in half.
But ultimately, the decision had to come from me. No matter what I was hearing and no matter what type of advice I was getting-- a lot of my friends and family came to the conclusion that, "No matter what we tell you, you have to ultimately make the decision because you are -- we want you to be happy."
ROBERTS: So were they all on the same page?
JAMES: All on the same page. There was a few that may wanted me to stay in Cleveland. They wanted me to go to Chicago and, you know, wanted me to go to Miami. But the consensus of all my friends and family was do what's best for you.
ROBERTS: They wanted you to be happy ultimately.
ROBERTS: You said you were-- you were tossing and turning last night a little bit?
ROBERTS: And you weren't quite sure until this morning?
JAMES: This morning.
ROBERTS: So what was it about when you woke up this morning and you made that decision? What was it? What was the defining moment for you?
JAMES: The defining moment-- it was two. The fact of the franchise being stable, the fact that the players that they have and to be able to be alongside greatness raises your level. And being down there with I'm meaning Chris Bosh and Dwyane Wade.
And then, secondly, like I keep stressing-- the fact of me being happy in this situation. And I'm feeling real comfortable.
And then the icing on the cake was when I talked to my mother. When I talked to my mother, she said, "You're making the right choice because I know you are."
And I'm looking forward to this new challenge. And she can't wait for it to happen. She was just so excited. It was almost like I didn't know that she was gonna be this excited because Ohio is all we know.
I mean, we've lived there our whole life. But she was so excited to hear about change. And that was the icing on the cake for me.
ROBERTS: Ultimately, I don't care who we are, we wanna please our parents.
JAMES: Absolutely. I want her to be happy and she is.
ROBERTS: Well, I gotta say, you know, we've been living with this decision, knowing this for about an hour. And you feel much more comfortable. You were heavy. When you walked in this door-- and I've known you for a while, I could feel the weight on you. I mean, describe how it was when you walked in here and how heavy it was for you.
JAMES: It was tough. It was definitely tough because I know that the fans and the people in Ohio and in Cleveland itself-- wouldn't be able to understand it. And me being a loyal guy, I can understand where they come from.
But at the same time, I had to do what was in my best interest. And just like you said, Robin, it was definite-- it was hard. It was a lot of weight on my shoulders. There was, you know, the relief now. I mean, I feel back to normal.
ROBERTS: You know, and in an hour's time, you're more of yourself. Because when you walked in, even when you announced and you said "Miami Heat"-- well, first of all, you said, "I'm heading to South Beach." That's what you—
ROBERTS: But it-- there was no-- there wasn't joy. It was just like this was a business decision. And I know how hard that had to have been because Ohio has been your home, as you said, all your life.
JAMES: Absolutely. And I look at it as -- it's a relationship. It was a relationship that I had with the organization, with that city. You know, you built a lot and you've done some things, you've done great things. You had the ups and downs. It's almost like a relationship you may have with a lady where you've been with that person for seven years and you've seen it all. You've grown together. You've been through the ups and downs.
And one day you guys just don't see it the same way. You have to move on for the better. And that's how I feel. It hurts. It definitely hurts. It hurts me to say that I'm moving on. But I have to do what's best.
ROBERTS: I know when we first saw you on the scene, you're 18 years old, fresh faced, wide eyed. And we've seen you grow and mature. And the fans there have seen that from you, too. And, yes, they're hurt. And you know what's going on in Cleveland right now. And it's-- I think in time they'll understand. But you can understand, too.
JAMES: Absolutely. I can understand.
ROBERTS: What do you want to say to them?
JAMES: Well, the time that I spent there was great and will always be remembered. The things that I was able to do and the things that we were able to do as a collective group, meaning myself and the fans and the organization, we did things that the city had never seen before, the organization had never seen before.
And-- I want them to know that every night I went out there, I did it for them. I didn't do it for anyone else but besides those fans 'cause I wanted to please them every night I went on the basketball court.
ROBERTS: You're taking less money. Dwyane is taking less money. Chris Bosh, I mean, if you all went someplace and it was just about the money, you could have made a lot more staying in Cleveland. And they could have made a lot more if you weren't a part of the team.
Explain to people because there are some who -- people who know you realize you're not an egomaniac by any stretch of the imagination. There are some that have taken this process the wrong way, you know, the national spotlight and that. But here you are, you're taking less money. You just want to, as anyone who plays the sport, you wanna win.
JAMES: Absolutely. And just like you said, Robin, if it was about the money or I could have stayed or I could have forced -- you know, a signing trade where I get all my money upfront or however the case may be.
But ever since I was a kid, I was always the winner. I won at every level-- all the way since I started playing the game of basketball at nine. I've won at every level, won championships at every level. And, you know, it won't be fulfilled until I win at the highest level.
ROBERTS: You said you changed your mind a couple times. Who was the bridesmaid?
JAMES: I mean, I woke up some days wanting to stay at home. You know, home was best. I woke up some days saying that New York was the best-- Chicago-- places-- I woke up sometimes I had dreams about teams -- places that didn't even have an NBA franchise. There was just so much going on.
But Miami felt right. You know? And when you get that feeling, that gut feeling-- Warren Buffet told me once and he said always follow your gut. When you have that gut feeling, you have to go with don't go back on it.
ROBERTS: See, this is a little peek into your character. You quote Warren Buffet. And that says a lot about who you are and that you are the evaluation of you, that you're not just-- it's not-- if it was just about basketball, we wouldn't be here. But you are-- it goes beyond that for so many people.
JAMES: I think it's the growth. It's just the growth in me, not only as a basketball player but just seeing things -- you know, being around certain people, being around, like you said, being around Warren Buffet and seeing the way he is on the day-to-day basis, being around Jay-Z-- being around these great people-- that have so many great things in their career. But also they're just-- they're fluent.
Sometimes they don't even have to say anything. They can just show you it. And then I feel like that's a gift. They don't even have to say anything. But being around them is powerful stuff. I think it's just the growth that I had from when I was a, you know, 18-year-old kid, coming out of high school to now being a 25-year-old man with a family, two sons. They're running around out there.
ROBERTS: Are they excited about-- when you first told Savannah about South Beach?
JAMES: Well, my kids, they-- no, they're not at that age yet. They're five and three. They don't matter what, as long as they got a basketball hoop and a pool, which they got plenty of pools in South Beach, they're ecstatic.
I mean, but like I said, my family, all we know is Ohio. So it's a change. It's definitely a change and there's gonna be doubt, which there should be. Excitement, there was anxiety. There was afraid. There was, you know, everything that you can imagine went on in everyone's head, you know? And it should be that because that's all we knew.
ROBERTS: Right. Just gonna ask you a couple more questions 'cause I know you wanna get out of here. And Keith's getting a little edgy back there. When you look back, 'cause I remember when I talked to you with Shooting Stars and you were talking about Coach Drew and Coach Drew -- Drew said, you know, use basketball. Don't let basketball use you.
And you had a very humble beginning growing up. And then this. I mean, do you stop sometimes and wonder how has this all come about? I know you've worked very hard for this, and you've had a lot of people around you. But just to give us an idea of the humble beginnings to this moment.
JAMES: Well, I mean, you said it. I mean, when you grow up in the inner city and you grow up in a single-parent household, that's -- those are humbling times, you know?
And I always said when, if I ever make it or make it outside these walls, make it outside what we call the projects that, first of all, I'm gonna give back to the community.
But at the same time, I'm gonna stay humble and know where I come from and not make myself feel or put people around me where I feel like I'm breaking them down and I'm not being humble by my situation. 'Cause I remember those times too well. And I understand it, you know, it's a unique situation.
ROBERTS: It is. Do you feel the pressure now? Is there more pressure because you guys are loaded? Now it's gonna be expected that you win a championship.
JAMES: Well, the expectations have roles. But they get to a point where they -- the expectation and the pressure -- doesn't get much higher. And I've had that ever since I got in the NBA or me saying that -- can you exceed the expectations that everyone has on him as an 18-year-old kid? Can he save the franchise? Is he better than these players? Can he continue to -- can he be an MVP in this league? Can he be an all-star?
I've exceeded every individual thing that you have to do. But now the highest expectation is there now and that's to win an NBA title and do it in South Beach.
ROBERTS: Ooh, that's a good way to end. That is. More chapters to be written.
ROBERTS: Just rounding first base. So what are you gonna do now?
JAMES: I don't know. We'll party.
ROBERTS: You've earned it. I'm just so glad to see the smile back on your face. LeBron, thank you. I know how difficult—
JAMES: Thank you very much. Thank you.
ROBERTS: A lot of people wanna know of -- you know, you said you're going to Miami. Why did you come here to Greenwich, Connecticut, to make the announcement?
JAMES: We came here to let everyone know also because the decision I'm there -- all the proceeds from the announcement was going to the Boys and Girls Club. And I think if last time I heard we raised over $2.5 million to put inside Boys and Girls Club in Akron, Ohio; Cleveland, Ohio; New York City; Chicago; and Miami and those five places.
So also, the University of Phoenix is also donating five scholarships to my foundation to five privileged kids. So that's another aspect that I also focus on besides the court.
ROBERTS: And you'll still be involved with work—
JAMES: Oh, absolutely. Absolutely.
ROBERTS: --your foundation and that?
ROBERTS: All right. Yeah, this is great. And just the exposure that you've given Boys and Girls, so they've been walking around on cloud nine.
JAMES: Oh, they're having a great time. And that's one thing about kids. When you do something for them and you do something that's positive, they never forget about it. So I'm happy that I'm in a position where I can do it.