LA-Bron: James agrees to 4-year contract with Lakers

James is saying goodbye to the Cleveland Cavaliers

LeBron James is leaving home for Hollywood and an iconic team.

The Los Angeles Lakers have a new superstar — L.A.-Bron.

The four-time NBA MVP announced Sunday night that he has agreed to a four-year, $154 million contract with the Lakers, joining one of the league’s most storied franchises and switching conferences to try and dethrone the Golden State Warriors and grow his own legacy.

For the second time in his career, James is saying goodbye to the Cleveland Cavaliers, who drafted the teenage sensation from Akron in 2003 and have to be satisfied with winning just one title in the 11 years they had him.

RELATED: Warriors sweep Cavs for second straight NBA title

Unlike his two previous forays in free agency, James did not drag out his decision and made the announcement less than 24 hours after NBA free agency opened.

This Summer of LeBron was barely a fling.

His management agency, Klutch Sports Group, announced his agreement with the Lakers with a simple, short release. It was a stark contrast from eight years ago, when a poorly conceived TV special to announce his departure from Cleveland backfired and damaged James’ image.

James isn’t planning any more comments and there won’t be a welcoming press conference or celebration in Los Angeles, a person familiar with his plans said Sunday night on the condition of anonymity. James will make his next public comments on July 30 in Akron when he opens a public school started by his family foundation.

It was all different this time.

The game’s biggest star will now lead a young Lakers team — run by Lakers Hall of Famer Magic Johnson — that has been overmatched in recent years while rebuilding. But the Lakers will instantly rise with James, a three-time champion who after being swept by the Warriors in this year’s NBA Finals said he is still driven and very much in “championship mode.”

James wasn’t planning to have any face-to-face meetings, but Saturday night he met with Johnson, who sold him on his vision for the Lakers, the person told AP. Earlier in the week, Johnson seemed resigned to the possibility he might not get James or Paul George, who ended up re-signing with the Oklahoma City Thunder.

But Johnson was confident he could pull something off.

“I’m Magic Johnson,” he said.

RELATED: Shaq on his Hollywood plans: ‘I want to be the next Rock’

The Lakers’ rich legacy is something that has always appealed to James and it wasn’t long after his announcement that he heard from Kobe Bryant, who won five titles during 20 seasons with Los Angeles.

“Welcome to the family @KingJames,” Bryant said on Twitter . “#lakers4life #striveforgreatness.”

James and Bryant were Olympic teammates and there has been a perceived rivalry between the pair of alpha males. They’re now linked like never before and if James wants to prepare for his eventual life after basketball, who better to learn from than Johnson, who has made a fortune as a business entrepreneur, or Bryant, an Academy Award winner.

The massive Los Angeles market will also provide James with a grander platform for his philanthropy and social activism. He already owns two homes in Southern California and has a film production company.

This is the third time in eight years James has changed teams. After bolting from Cleveland in 2010, he returned in an emotional homecoming four years later, determined to make the Cavs champions. The 33-year-old had previously said he wanted to finish his career in Ohio, and although he’s leaving again, Cavs fans are more forgiving after he ended the city’s 52-year sport title drought in 2016.

Shortly after the announcement, which came in a surprising manner, James posted a three-photo tribute to Cleveland fans on his Instagram account.

“Thank you Northeast Ohio for an incredible four seasons,” James wrote. “This will always be home.”

But there will always be a portion of Cleveland fans disappointed that James left again and that he wouldn’t give the Cavs a longer commitment. His deal with the Lakers is his longest since he signed for six years with Miami in 2010.

And unlike eight years ago when he ripped James for leaving, Cavs owner Dan Gilbert thanked him. Gilbert opened his comments by referring to Cleveland’s 2016 title as “a championship that united generations of Clevelanders, both living and passed.”

“LeBron, you came home and delivered the ultimate goal,” Gilbert said in a statement . “Nothing but appreciation and gratitude for everything you put into every moment you spent in a Cavaliers uniform. We look forward to the retirement of the famous #23 Cavs jersey one day down the line…”

On Friday, James informed the Cavs that he was not exercising his $35.6 million option and becoming a free agent. While in Los Angeles following a family vacation, he spoke to Cavs general manager Koby Altman moments after free agency opened on Sunday, and it appears that was more a courtesy than a chance for Cleveland to make one last pitch.

Cleveland’s roster was exposed during this year’s finals, and James may not have seen a way for it to improve enough to win a fourth title.

James gave Cleveland something to remember in his final season. He played in all 82 regular-season games and then somehow carried a team that underwent several transformations to a fourth straight conference title and matchup against the Warriors.

As has been the case in the past, James didn’t have enough help as the Cavs were swept, dropping him to 3-6 in the NBA Finals — a record sometimes used to compare him to Michael Jordan.

His stay with the Cavaliers will best be remembered for 2016, when he rallied the Cavs from a 3-1 deficit in the finals to stun the Warriors. James helped seal a Game 7 win with a chase-down block of Andre Iguodala, the signature moment of a career that has shown no signs of decay.

With the Lakers, James will be playing in the Western Conference for the first time and just down the Pacific Coast Highway from the Warriors, the team that has stymied him three times in the past four finals.

The chance to play for one of America’s most storied franchises is a new challenge for James, who prides himself on knowing the game’s history. In Los Angeles, championships are the standard and he’ll feel new pressure in upholding the legacies of Johnson, Bryant, Kareem Abdul-Jabbar, Jerry West and other Lakers greats.

It’s now his turn.

The Associated Press

Like us on Facebook and follow us on Twitter.

Just Posted

Wolf Creek Schools raises Treaty 6 flag for first time

Chiefs, school officials took part in a ceremony that is aimed at acknowledging Treaty 6 land

Pair arrested in Ponoka with several weapons, face 98 charges

Two men nabbed after early morning suspicious vehicle reported, stolen weapons found

UPDATE: 18-year-old Rimbey teen dies in collision

A portion of Highway 53 west of Rimbey is down to one lane while crews investigate

Ponoka County approves $70,000 to dredge Parkland Beach

Parkland Beach to see some dredging support from Ponoka County

Ponoka sets bylaw on cannabis retail, pushes for quick public consumption regulation

Town passes first reading on retail outlet bylaw, questions staff on need to separate public usage

U.S. congressman issues dire warning to Canada’s NAFTA team: time is running out

Canadian Foreign Affairs Minister Chrystia Freeland is expected to resume talks with the U.S.

Update: Search called off for missing plane between Edmonton and Chilliwack

Search efforts were concentrated along the Highway 5 corridor between Valemount and Kamloops

Canada signs global pact to help rid world’s oceans of abandoned fishing gear

The federal Fisheries Minister says it’s a ‘critical issue’

GOP pushing forward for Kavanaugh, accuser wants ‘fairness’

Kavanaugh has denied al allegations of sexual misconduct

Rural Canada Post carriers could see 25-per-cent pay hike: spokesman

An arbitrator has released a ruling in a long-standing pay equity dispute at Canada Post

Freeland brings optimism back to NAFTA talks

NAFTA talks resume in Washington

Bradley Williams takes over as Westerner Park Interim CEO

CFR expected to go on as scheduled with no disruption

Despite protests, Russia’s anti-doping agency reinstated

On a 9-2 vote, the executive committee declared RUSADA as having satisfied conditions

The longest week: Carolinas worn out by Florence

Frustration and sheer exhaustion are building as thousands of people wait to go home seven days after the storm began battering the coast.

Most Read