- Brian Windhorst, ESPN.com
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AKRON, Ohio -- LeBron James lowered the window of his Range Rover and drank a smoothie as he sped away from the University of Akron on Wednesday afternoon. As he zipped past the signs on fraternity-house lawns that had been erected to catch his attention, he never looked up, just into the distance.
Later, he went to his old high school and the recreation center where he learned to play basketball while being filmed by a camera crew. The mission of the piece was to talk about memories.
Perhaps he knew he was taking a last look.
ESPN's Chris Broussard reported early Thursday that James is leaning toward joining the Miami Heat to form an alliance with Dwyane Wade and Chris Bosh. James is scheduled to make his final decision official at 9 p.m. ET on Thursday on ESPN.
On the outside, James had a carefree week during his Nike Camp, even as everyone around him seemed tense. He came and played every day, not showing a hint of wrestling with a decision that could very well devastate the thousands of fans who had cheered for him in Akron's Rhodes Arena.
It's the same place where he accepted his MVP trophy two months ago, and a few hundred yards from where 8,000 people showed up on LeBron James Appreciation Day just three weeks ago.
James' loose attitude was the exception. The college players in attendance, some of them who might be joining him in the NBA in a year or two, whispered and stared during drills as James went through stretching exercises. The high school players lined up to watch him scrimmage, even when he was moving at half-speed.
On a running track above the floor, media members stalked James' every move, dutifully reporting his arrival and departure and string of "No comments."
Everyone wanted to ask him the big question but no one dared break from decorum, except some reporters. Even they were shunned, tossed out of the building when James had his workout on what might have been his last full day as a favorite son in his hometown.
Throughout the week, James' Cavaliers teammates came to the camp and played with him. At one point, there were five members of the 2009-10 Cavs team running the floor and running the team's offense as they had fun playing with the teenagers. But even with most of their professional futures tied up in James' big decision, no one would ask.
New Cavs coach Byron Scott stopped by Wednesday and he didn't press either, despite knowing the James was soon to make his decision public. He left without talking to James.
"That's the question," Cavs guard Daniel Gibson said. "I don't know. I'm here with the hanging-out, having-fun LeBron. I'm not out here with the business LeBron."
The business LeBron is about to speak. Perhaps everyone in Akron, and Cleveland, was simply afraid of the answer.
Brian Windhorst covers the Cavs for the Cleveland Plain Dealer, more of his coverage can be found at cleveland.com/cavs.
1mMichael C. Wright