Wednesday, June 21, 2006
LeBron, hungry for his own title, happy in Cleveland
CLEVELAND -- Now that good pal Dwyane Wade has won an NBA title, LeBron James is even more driven to get his first.
The Cavs hope LeBron keeps his roots firmly in Cleveland.
"It just makes me hungrier," James said Wednesday at the
groundbreaking for a $4.7 million housing project on the city's
east side that he and his business team are partially funding.
"The best team won it this year, D-Wade and the Miami Heat. But
the NBA doesn't stop in one year.
"I've got a long time to get mine."
It's clearer than ever that James wants to win his first championship with the Cleveland Cavaliers.
On July 1, the club will offer him a five-year, $75 million maximum contract extension. That date has been circled on the Cavs' calendar since they drafted the 21-year-old first overall in 2003.
James is convinced he'll be in Cleveland for a long time.
"I'm very happy here with our team and I'm very excited about
our future," he said. "I'm confident we'll get something done.
I've got confidence in the organization and what we've done
During the announcement of his latest business venture, James
was handed a shovel for a photo opportunity to show his commitment
to rebuilding an urban area of Cleveland.
The Cavaliers can only hope it also symbolized that their
superstar is digging in for a long time.
NBA rules prevent general manager Danny Ferry from publicly
commenting on James' contract situation, but it's no secret the
team is eager to get beyond July 1.
"It's great that LeBron is showing his commitment toward
Northeast Ohio and the city," Ferry said at the ceremony. "The
organization is proud of him."
James is proud of Wade, named finals MVP after leading the Heat
to four straight wins over the Dallas Mavericks.
Following Miami's 95-92 series-clinching win in Game 6 on
Tuesday, James spoke to his jubilant friend in Dallas.
"He was out of his mind, and he doesn't touch alcohol," James
said. "I'm excited for him. I'm very happy for him. He's one of my
best friends in the whole world. Hopefully, I'll get there one day
and he can be excited for me."
James averaged 31.4 points, 7.0 rebounds and 6.6 assists this
season while leading the Cavs into the playoffs for the first time
since 1998. He was just as good in the postseason (30.8, 8.1 and
5.8) as Cleveland beat Washington in the first round before losing
in seven games to Detroit.
There will be a new road block for James next season: the NBA
"We're happy for the Heat," he said. "But at the end of the
day it's another step for us [Cavaliers]. We want to get better."
As for the housing project, James and three friends and business
partners are among the investors in the 18-unit project that will
feature two- and three-bedroom, 2,000-square-foot townhouses
expected to sell for $265,000 and $325,000 each.
"We're very excited about refurbishing and bringing great
things to what we call the hood. Everybody else may call it the
city but we call it the hood," James said to cheers at a symbolic
groundbreaking for the project. "That's where we grew up at and we
never ever had an opportunity like this."
The homes will overlook the scenic Rockefeller Park near the
Glenville neighborhood east of downtown.
The lakeside area, once home to the city's most affluent families, is in the beginning stages of a redevelopment after race riots in 1968 caused widespread arson and looting that chased businesses and residents away for nearly 40 years.