LeBron lands in Miami|Heat fans flock to meet the ‘King’

Published 3:57 am Saturday, July 10, 2010

By By TIM REYNOLDS, AP Sports Writer
MIAMI — With LeBron James ready to stand alongside him, Dwyane Wade wants the offseason to end.
Right now.
There’s a championship for the Miami Heat to chase again, now that James and Chris Bosh have decided to play with him for years to come. And Wade already is counting down the days.
‘‘It’s still surreal, man,’’ Wade said. ‘‘Me, Chris and ’Bron. We ready. We want to go to the gym now.’’
Wade, James and Bosh were together in their new home building for the first time Friday, as the Heat braced for 13,000 fans to arrive for a hastily called welcome party. Fans were given posters with James, Wade and Bosh together in Heat uniforms — ‘‘Yes. We. Did.’’ was the slogan in big white letters — and crowded around a runway surrounded by video screens and smoke effects.
If Heat president Pat Riley gets his way, it’ll be the first of many for the NBA’s newest star cluster — a grouping everyone, even Wade, is still getting used to.
‘‘When I look around and see No. 6 and No. 1 on the court with me, that’s when it’s going to see real,’’ he said.
Until now, No. 6 meant Mario Chalmers, No. 1 meant Dorell Wright.
Chalmers will be back (wearing No. 15, his college number, probably) and Wright still could return, but going forward those digits belong to others.
James will wear No. 6 instead of his usual 23. Bosh will don No. 1 instead of No. 4, Wade said, because he ‘‘wanted a new beginning.’’
And even Wade — who considers his No. 3 sacred — thought about switching his number as well.
‘‘Then I realized, three is magical, and now it represents more than just my number,’’ Wade said. ‘‘It represents the three of us making sacrifices as well.’’
The jersey numbers aren’t all that important.
They just want the winning to be easy as 1-2-3.
Wade and Bosh decided Tuesday that they would play together in Miami, releasing that information to the world on Wednesday. With that, it was all up to James, who said he decided Thursday morning — hours before his made-for-TV announcement special that night — that he’d join the Heat and form a power triple.
Turns out, some members of the Heat family had more than an inkling that James was coming long before that show.
‘‘I knew this was going to evolve a while ago,’’ Heat executive Alonzo Mourning said Friday. ‘‘We knew a long time ago. We did our due diligence on our recruiting trip, and we had a good feeling about this. When we came back, we knew that it pretty much was going to evolve in our favor.’’
The end result?
Miami landed three of the top nine scorers in the league last season, the two-time reigning MVP in James, kept their own superstar (who said he wouldn’t have stayed if either Bosh or James hadn’t come to Miami) and gave fans reason to hope that the franchise’s wild pendulum — NBA’s best in 2006, NBA’s worst in 2008 — is clearly on a decided upswing.
‘‘It’s going to take all of us to do it,’’ Wade said.
In Miami, the scene was sheer bliss on Friday.
James’ jerseys weren’t even going on hangers inside the Miami team store; for the most part, they were getting sold as soon as they could be taken out of the box. A line of fans snaked around the arena on a steamy morning just to put their names on a waiting list for tickets. The switchboard at AmericanAirlines Arena was overwhelmed for much of the day, and the 13,000 free seats for the welcoming bash were made available online at 4 p.m. — and were gone in an hour.
‘‘The road to history,’’ James wrote early Friday on Twitter, ‘‘starts now.’’