AKRON, Ohio — Cleveland Cavaliers star LeBron James, who once said he wanted to play his entire career with Carlos Boozer, understands the power forward's decision to leave the team.

"It hurts us, of course," James said Wednesday night after appearing at the ESPY Awards in Los Angeles.

Boozer recently accepted a six-year, $68 million offer from the Utah Jazz. But James said he respects Boozer for doing what he believed was best for him and his family.

"I'm great friends with Carlos. We had a great run in the one year that I had him," James said.

Boozer averaged 15.5 points and 11.4 rebounds for the rejuvenated Cavs. Cleveland didn't have the money under the salary cap to match Utah's offer.

James won an ESPY award for best breakthrough athlete over Carmelo Anthony, Jake Delhomme, Michelle Wie and Freddy Adu. Winners were chosen by fans on the Internet.