words_Nick Engvall

Technically the NBA off season is only a few days in and already it seems it has become much more than the circus show that everyone was anticipating. Although LeBron James isn’t the only free agent this off season, he is likely the most appealing free agent in NBA history, quite possibly in sports history. Although the tactics of some cities, residents, fans and owners might be unbelievable unfathomable down right ridiculous, they are most definitely entertaining.

It’s impossible to pinpoint the exact beginning of the temptations luring LeBron, or where it will end for that matter, but it’s a safe bet we haven’t seen it all yet, since technically he isn’t truly a free agent until July 1st.

If you haven’t caught some of the outlandish (understatement of the century) stunts that have been attempted, rumored (some verified and some not),  you’re late for the chase. No worries though, I’ve scouted your toughest competitors in the “Luring LeBron Lottery.” If you have your own approach to bringing The King to ball for your team, here is what you’re up against.

Owner Tactics:

First up, there is the subtle approach.

This was the Dallas Mavericks owner Mark Cuban’s style, which seemed to cue the circus inspired theme music if you will, for the beginning of “LeBron’s Circus Show” in late May, during an interview with CNN Money, Cuban tested the technicalities of the NBA’s tampering rules.

“Come July 1st, yeah, of course, anybody would be interested in LeBron James, and if he leaves via free agency, then it’s going to be tough,” Cuban said. “If he does like I’m guessing, hoping he will, which is say, ‘I’m not going to leave the Cavs high and dry,’ if he decides to leave — there’s still a better chance he stays — then he’ll try to force a sign-and-trade, and that gives us a chance.”

Since speaking about free agents before the July 1st opening of the free agent market is against the NBA’s policies, Cuban’s remarks tiptoed the tight rope that might have ultimately left Cuban lighter in the pockets and loathing whoever does land LeBron. Likely credited to Cuban’s smooth talking (or celeb status?), the harsh right hand of the NBA didn’t flinch at Cuban’s remarks.

Lure Rating: 5 of 10 Stars — only because we know Mr. Cuban has better tricks up his sleeve, we’ve seen them.

The second approach, this one taken by entertainment mogul David Geffen, was also outside the box. It was rumored that Geffen is in the works to obtain 51% ownership of the Los Angeles Clippers, and subsequently the rumors followed that if this were to happen, Geffen could secure LeBron’s signing with the Clippers. To further raise eyebrows, LeBron’s close friend Maverick Carter was seen at Game 2 of the NBA Finals with Geffen. Needless to say, Carter, who handles much of James’ business dealings, caught the attention of everyone following the LeBron Circus from town to town. However, LeBron’s Circus without LeBron in attendance leaves a little to be desired.

Lure Rating: 4 of 10 Stars — LeBron has money so flaunting your cash won’t work, he wants to beat Kobe… AND win a championship too.

Fan Tactics:

The first two approaches might have been tactful, but lacking in the entertainment department compared to the fans of King James who have gotten involved. In the same way that fans can make a lackluster game exciting, they can make the LeBron circus  into one that makes Ringling Brothers look like kiddie stuff.

First, there is Bring on the King. In this method, getting LeBron to Madison Square Garden is the mission. Commandeering their own Twitter hashtag (#cmonlebron) and creating a website featuring a countdown timer until free agency begins, the Bring on the King campaign is a creative approach. However, with a prize like LeBron James lurking in free agency, even relentless promotion and well placed media placements will leave this approach looking elementary.

Lure Rating: 6 of 10 Stars — Grass roots efforts are always admirable. However, LeBron doesn’t tweet. Where’s the fail whale?

A step above is Send LeBron to Chicago, more than a campaign, this one seems more like a movement. Complete with website and billboard in Chicago with the slogan “unfinished business” showing NBA Championship Trophies and “Chicago Wants LeBron,” this one recently raised the standards of luring LeBron. Not to billboard heights though, more like to billboard charts. The Send LeBron to Chicago fans recently uploaded a video, complete with T-Pain inspired auto-tune. Yes, a song complete with auto-tune and video to go along with it. So much for the death of auto-tune.

Lure Rating: 8 of 10 Stars — If Jay-Z gets in on the remix though, James might be obligated to wind up in the Windy City.

Baseball Tactics?

Knowing Michael Jordan was LeBron’s idol as a youngster and paying attention to the King’s wishes to change his jersey from #23 to #6 earlier in the year in honor of Jordan, the Lake Erie Crushers have crushed the competition in the Art of the Luring LeBron. Not only have the Crushers offered the King a contract, rumored at upwards of $1600.00 a month, yes, that’s 1600 with TWO zeros after the decimal point.

The Art of Luring LeBron - Lake Erie Crushers Offer James a contract, to play baseball.They have also offered him a host family “to eliminate the stress of a potential commute from the Akron area to Avon,” the near hour drive (not including pit stop for coffee) could have otherwise easily been a deal breaker.

On top of that, and likely guaranteeing that the Crushers will land LeBron. On Keep LBJ in the C-L-E night, the Crushers will pay tribute to James with Cavaliers inspired jerseys during their game on June 30th, a day before his free agency is official. The players will wear #6 in order to grant James his wish of changing numbers in order to honor Michael Jordan.

The Crushers will rename the playing surface LeBron James Field at All Pro Freight Stadium to commemorate the evening and have set aside a suite for LeBron to bring his free agent friends in for a round table on creating the 2010 version of the Dream Team.

Lure Rating: 9.5 of 10 Stars — It’s all but guaranteed LeBron would go to Lake Erie (host family is the cherry on top!), but simply offering up the statement, “The Crushers are also open to any other requests that James or his associates may have for the evening,” just seems like going a little too far, so they’ve been docked a half of a star, simply for bending over a little too far backwards.