LeBron James: Proposing 'Felt Like Before a Finals Game'

06/29/2012 at 11:00 AM EDT

LeBron James to Oprah Winfrey: Proposal Was Like Finals Game
LeBron James and Savannah Brinson
Serg Alexander/WireImage
There are few things more pressure-filled than helping a professional sports team win a national championship – but for LeBron James, one of them was popping the question to his longtime girlfriend, Savannah Brinson.

"I was nervous," James, 27, tells Oprah Winfrey on Oprah's Next Chapter. "It felt like before a finals game."

The Miami Heat star proposed to his high school sweetheart during a New Year's Eve party in South Beach.

"I knew all my teammates and my friends and family was going to be there, and I thought I was ready to make the next step in my commitment with Savannah," he tells Winfrey.

James said he asked his Heat teammate Dwyane Wade to hold the engagement ring for him during the party, while he waited for the right moment to get down on one knee. And he still nearly chickened out.

"I asked him for it right after the ball dropped," James recalls. "He was like, 'You ready?' I was like, 'If you don't give me this ring right now, I ain't gonna do it.' "

James and Brinson, 25, have two children together – LeBron Jr., 7, and Bryce, 5.

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