LeBron James is coming to Los Angeles.
Well, James and the Cleveland Cavaliers will be in town to play the LA Clippers and Los Angeles Lakers on the upcoming weekend, and one self-described "super fan" is putting his money where his mouth is when it comes to wanting James on the Lakers.
Personal injury attorney Jacob Emrani regularly runs ads on LA radio stations, but he opted for a different technique to recruit James. Emrani wants James to choose Southern California as his free agent destination, so he's put up billboards around the city.
According to ESPN, Emrani paid for four billboards after Cleveland and Philadelphia put up similar marketing pitches in recent weeks. On the billboards, Emrani chose to write "LABron," which obviously mixes "LA" and "LeBron." In addition, the billboard reads, "Cleveland and Philly, You Can't Compete With LA." The sign also features a no. 23 jersey and a crown in reference to James' number and nickname of "King."
Finally, Emrani added, "Paid for by Super Fan" and put up a URL to his professional website. Regardless of his intentions as a fan, one can't help but notice that the billboards are also a marketing ploy for his law firm.
James expects to be an unrestricted free agent in the summer of 2018, and the Los Angeles Lakers have put themselves in position to sign the 2018 All Star Game MVP. The Lakers have been rumored to be interested in James' services, but of course, 29 other teams would likely also be interested in a player that could go down as the greatest basketball player of all time by the time he retires.
James will turn 34 during the 2018-19 season, so his best years are behind him, but he is still a franchise changing player that has made seven straight NBA Finals. In fact, the last time James did not make the finals, the Lakers beat the Boston Celtics in 2010, and Kobe Bryant won his fifth and final NBA championship.
While these billboards are not team sanctioned, the Lakers did put on a campaign that featured billboards when Dwight Howard was a free agent. The "Stay D12" campaign did not work as intended, and Howard chose to go to Houston in free agency. Considering the center's play since his departure, the Lakers seemingly dodged a bullet. Still the point remains that billboard advertising doesn't seem to be the most effective method to convince superstar players to sign with an NBA team.
Regardless, James will be in LA for the weekend and will likely at least hear about the billboards. While the Lakers cannot officially recruit James until the summer, fans like Emrani are free to make their feelings known without penalty.