CLEVELAND -- The Los Angeles Lakers are the latest team to join the “Billboard Battle” ahead of the impending free agency for Cleveland Cavaliers small forward LeBron James.
Days ahead of Sunday’s game between the Cavaliers and Lakers at Staples Center, billboards have emerged in Los Angeles in an attempt to recruit James to California when he re-enters free agency this summer.
Using the hashtag, #LABron, the two billboards display messages of “FORGET THE PROCESS, WE WIN BANNERS!” and “Cleveland & Philly, You Can’t Compete with L.A.”
In the days ahead of Philadelphia’s game in Cleveland on March 1, fans of the 76ers did their own recruiting by posting billboards along the heavily-travelled Northeast Ohio freeway Interstate 480.
Those billboards utilized the hashtag, “#PHILLYWANTSLEBRON” in red, white and blue lettering in an effort to recruit James to Philadelphia, where after a long rebuilding process, the 76ers have a roster full of talented young players and are in the thick of the playoff race in the Eastern Conference.
“It is, absolutely,” James said last week when asked if the billboards were flattering.
“You could say it’s a distraction. It’s not. It’s actually very flattering that I’m sitting here at 33 and in my 15th year and teams, or guys, I don’t want to say teams because that becomes tampering, but people in their respective city want me to play for them. That’s cool, I think. That’s dope.”
Despite coming up on the losing end of The Finals for the fifth time in eight trips last summer, James made NBA history against the Golden State Warriors. James averaged a triple-double of points, rebounds and assists over the five games, a first for the NBA’s championship series.
James averaged 33.6 points, 12.0 rebounds and 10.0 assists while shooting .564 from the field and .387 from three-point range against the Warriors.
Now in his 15th NBA season out of Akron St. Vincent-St. Mary High School, James is averaging 26.8 points, 8.4 rebounds, 9.0 assists, 0.9 blocks and 1.5 steals over 37.1 minutes per game in 63 starts for the Cavaliers (37-26).
After rebuilding their roster with three deals at the NBA Trade Deadline on February 8, the Cavaliers find themselves in third place in the Eastern Conference standings and with a half-game lead over the Indiana Pacers in the Central Division.