The news broke at 12:13 p.m. Friday.
LeBron James’ decision was announced not with an hour-long TV special, but a first-person essay on Sports Illustrated’s website. Managing Editor Chris Stone told Advertising Age he believed his magazine got the story “because Lebron’s team trusted us not to turn it into a circus.”
Social media users are under no such obligation.
Clevelanders flooded the streets, but elsewhere James leaving Miami caused a flood of tweets. South Florida fans on Twitter were a mix of sad, angry, bitter and grateful.
Not sorry to see James go? South Florida’s other sports teams. The official Miami Hurricanes Twitter account thanked him for the memories, but reminded all, “Now it’s football season.” The Dolphins didn’t immediately react, but they would likely toast to that, having watched LeBron’s Heat create a buzz they haven’t produced in 40 years.
The Marlins were quiet, but the Panthers retweeted a celebratory thought from forward Scottie Upshall. “Hottest ticket in town now,” he said, but even he must know even the most jilted Heat fan wouldn’t trade their hoops (and certainly not their football) for hockey.
As Cavaliers fans flocked to Quicken Loans Arena to celebrate, Cleveland’s second-biggest star, Browns No. 1 draft pick Johnny Manziel, tweeted “YESSSSSSSS!! Couldn’t be happier for my guy.” Manziel shares the same agent as James.
Heat fan David Alen reacted with a mix of sarcasm (“Cleveland’s greatest moment is acquiring a free agent. … I’m kinda sad for them”) and love (“I still love you @MiamiHEAT. Since I was 8, and I will always love you”).
WWE wrestler and ex-Hurricanes football player Dwyane “The Rock” Johnson tweeted: “Miami’s been my home since I was 18. Still here. Seen ‘em come and go.. Thank you brotha @KingJames for the epic memories. Onward. #GoHeat”
Some had a gallows-humor twist. “Hey S. Floridians, remember when it used to be easy to score a pair of Heat tickets?” wrote ESPN college football analyst Desmond Howard, a longtime South Florida resident who was born in Cleveland. “Happy days are here again.”
Plenty of jokes were made about James’ 2010 departure from Cleveland, which saw Cavs fans burning LeBron jerseys. Howard offered this idea: “Can someone get all of that footage from Cavs fans that aired after The Decision and start IDing folks. No Cavs tickets for you!”
While vandals in Miami’s Wynwood section defaced a hand-painted mural featuring the Heat’s 2012 championship team, Internet pranksters changed the Wikipedia bio of the Cavs’ newly hired coach, David Blatt, to say he is “the luckiest man alive.”
Yahoo! Sports’ Adrian Wojnarowski asked Blatt if he was thrilled for a chance to coach James. “That would be the understatement of the millennium,” he said.
Journalists on Twitter back-slapped Sports Illustrated’s Lee Jenkins, the writer who landed the exclusive with James. He’s a long-form writer, not one of the day-to-day hounds chasing the story. It’s apparent LeBron and his team worked with Sports Illustrated to write a compelling, image-friendly 952-word piece.
Other reporters also gave credit to veteran independent NBA writer Chris Sheridan, who was the first heavyweight in the post-July 1 frenzy to predict LeBron-to-Cleveland. Sheridan, however, couched it by saying his anonymous informants claimed a return was “90 percent” sure.
Ohioans were 100 percent thankful. Even Scott Raab, a writer for Esquire who penned a book, “The Whore of Akron” after James left, simply tweeted, “Acceptance, forgiveness, and love.”
ESPN.com baseball writer Jerry Crasnick joked, “It’s amazing how things always go Cleveland’s way.” That city, of course, that hasn’t won a major sports championship since 1964, the longest drought of any American city.
That’s why gratitude was the mood of Heat fan Chris Joseph, a writer for the Miami New Times.
“I understand the anger,” Joseph tweeted. “But c’mon y’all. 4-straight Finals, 2 titles, every night a party. Doesn’t come often, if at all.”
Few Heat fans were mad close to 6 p.m., when Wojnarowski tweeted that Chris Bosh was staying in Miami with a five-year, $118 million deal. It made Heat fan @GregFromDelray all-caps happy.
“WE REALLY MIGHT REGRET THIS IN 2YRS BUT RIGHT NOW ITS AWESOME,” he wrote.