ESPN: LeBron to announce plans at top of show

Published July 7, 2010

An ESPN executive says LeBron James will announce his future NBA plans within the first 10 minutes of Thursday night's hourlong broadcast.

Norby Williamson, the cable network's vice president of production, says sportscaster Jim Gray, will handle the introduction, announcement and questions. Williamson says Gray was hand-picked by James' team, who approached the network last week about the special.

ESPN says Gray and James will be in one location. A person familiar with the plans, however, tells The Associated Press the interview will take place at the Boys & Girls Club of Greenwich, Conn.

The broadcast also will include a long-form interview with ESPN personality Mike Wilbon and others via satellite from ESPN's studios in Bristol, Conn.

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AP Writer Pat Eaton-Robb contributed to this report.

THIS IS A BREAKING NEWS UPDATE. Check back soon for further information. AP's earlier story is below.

AKRON, Ohio (AP) — With LeBron James' decision nearing by the second, the Cleveland Cavaliers took one final, and perhaps desperate, run at the biggest free agent of them all.

New Cavs coach Byron Scott showed up unannounced at James' summer camp and spent an hour watching the two-time MVP and several Cleveland players work out on Wednesday as the NBA — and seemingly the entire sports world — prepares for James to announce which team he'll sign with during a national TV appearance on ESPN.

Scott arrived as James was taking the floor to run a few full-court games with Cavaliers Jamario Moon, Danny Green, Christian Eyenga and assistant coach Chris Jent. Scott was hired last week by the Cavs and was part of their presentation team that wooed James last week at his business office in downtown Cleveland.

Scott left about an hour later, saying he did not speak with James. The former New Orleans coach said he has his fingers crossed and "I'm always hopeful" in regards to James' situation.

Scott's appearance could either signal the Cavs are afraid they're about to lose James, or they wanted to remind him who he'll be playing for — a three-time NBA champ who happened to be Magic Johnson's backcourt mate.

At 3:30 p.m., Akron's King left without speaking to reporters staked out on a grassy strip outside Rhodes Arena.

Earlier, James made an announcement about his announcement.

On the third day of his Nike-sponsored skills academy, James confirmed on his relaunched website that he will end this free-agency insanity, which came more into focus with Dwyane Wade and Chris Bosh deciding to sign together with the Miami Heat. James' business manager, Maverick Carter, said Wednesday the MVP will say where he's playing next season and beyond at 9 p.m. on a program called "The Decision."

James could be about to unite with Wade and Bosh, forming a Miami Thrice episode that would rock the league.

Or, he could be staying home to try and deliver a championship to Cleveland, a city on edge as it awaits his word.

James also updated his new Twitter account, which had over 200,000 members in its first day, with a link to his website.

It is not yet known where James will make the announcement.

A person familiar with the location said James will not announce his future plans in Ohio. The person would not reveal the exact place and spoke to The Associated Press on condition of anonymity because ESPN and James' representatives agreed to keep it a secret.

On big occasions in the past, James has gone to his alma mater, St. Vincent-St. Mary High School. That's where he said he was turning pro and where he accepted his first MVP trophy last year. In May, he accepted his second straight MVP at Rhodes Arena on the University of Akron's campus.

James is expected to film something for his website at the school later on Wednesday.

One day before announcing his plans, James rolled out of bed and went to his basketball camp. He arrived at Rhodes at 10 a.m., wearing his signature New York Yankees' cap, T-shirt and shorts. He plopped down on a courtside chair alongside former teammate Damon Jones and within minutes the back-to-back MVP was talking on his cell phone and sending text messages.

On Tuesday night, ESPN, citing "independent sources" said James had approached the network about the announcement, which will end a free-agent summer unlike any in NBA history.

Wade told The Associated Press in an interview he doesn't know what James will say during the show.

"I won't speak to him again until he makes his decision," Wade said. "And when it's over, I will congratulate him. But I will be watching."

Written by TOM WITHERS, AP Sports Writer

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