Until LeBron James declares where he's going after this season, the recruiting efforts aren't going to end. In fact, they're just going to ratchet the hell up.
The most recent development in that department was none other than a digital billboard that went up in James' hometown of Akron, imploring him that “There's no place like home.” Since Akron doesn't have an NBA franchise, one would think that it was an effort to get him to stay with the Cavs, especially since Ohio was on the sign. On Friday, James spoke about the new(est) pitch trying to influence where he ends up by saying that stuff like that doesn't affect him because he's been dealing with it since high school.
“I haven't seen it,” James said according to ESPN. “But, like I said before, it's very flattering. It's just, I don't know, it's very humbling. I know my hometown, so, I already know there's no place like Akron, that's for sure. Me just having everything I've done with that city, obviously, but just being a part of that city my whole life … it's just very flattering.”
“It's not that I ignore it,” he added. “I mean, I see it, but I know what's important. I've always been able to keep the main thing the main thing. I see pretty much everything. I have not seen that billboard just yet, but I will. I see and I hear pretty much everything, but I know what's important. I know what keeps me focused. I know what the job is at hand, and that's just how I've always been. It's been like that my whole life.
“I heard talks of me being able to go straight to the NBA and being the No. 1 pick after my junior year in high school. I heard that, but it didn't affect me. There was talks of me leaving St. Vincent-St. Mary and going to Oak Hill [Academy]. There could've been a billboard back then. But it was like, 'No, I'm not doing that. I understand what's important now. What's important now is finishing the school year up and see what happens after the season.' I've always been that way. When I was a kid, I've always just tackled the main thing at the present time and worried about the future when it's upon me.”
As relayed by ESPN, the Akron Boards (as nobody calls them) are just the latest billboards trying to steer LeBron to a specific NBA franchise by placing a message in a location he'd only see if he was driving his car down a very particular road. They come after similar billboards were posted in Cleveland, Los Angeles, Philadelphia, and probably some other places wondering what they got to do to get some media attention.
The Akron signs were put up by Alison McIntyre Baranek of Stouffer Realty (that's a good plug for her business) and are described in the following manner by ESPN:
Baranek's billboards feature basketball sneakers done up to look like Dorothy's ruby slippers, and the “O” in “home” is an outline of the state of Ohio with James' No. 23 jersey printed in the middle.
ESPN reports that another digital billboard is set to go up next week nearer to LeBron's home in Bath, Ohio.
However, until the season's over, it sounds as if you won't squeeze jack out of LeBron.
“I don't know if this is even the right time to talk about that,” he said. “Obviously I will attack that after the season. As I stated before, my only focus right now is how we continue to improve the ballclub and put us in the right possible position to compete for a championship.”
Two billboards, though. Damn. Other teams, time to pack it in.
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