LeBron Watch Since End of Season
Larry King Interview
Breaking a nearly two-week media silence since the Cavaliers were eliminated from the playoffs, LeBron gave his first interview previewing the offseason to CNN's Larry King. In the interview, he told King that the Cavs have the edge in re-signing him. But he also said he was far from a decision and that the chance to win would be the biggest factor.
Cavs Can Coach and GM
After being named coach of the year in 2008-09 and leading the Cavs to back-to-back 60-win seasons, Mike Brown (far right) was let go after a second-round playoff loss. Shortly after Brown was fired, GM Danny Ferry announced his resignation. The Cavs remain without a head coach or GM as July 1 and the opening of free agency nears.
Izzo and Cal Flirt with NBA
After owner Dan Gilbert said the star free-agent-to-be would not have a say in the team's search for a head coach, James said he was "100 percent behind" the Cavs pursuit of Tom Izzo. The Michigan State coach never spoke directly to James and decided to stay in East Lansing. Rumors of a package deal between Kentucky coach John Calipari and James being delivered to Chicago heated up but never boiled over. The high-profile marriage supposedly being brokered by NBA back-channel international man of mystery William "Worldwide" Wesley dissipated when the Bulls hired Celtics assistant Tom Thibodeau.
The Chicago Pitch
Free oil changes for life. The LeBron James Speedway. Majestic billboards. None of these things Chicago laid out in anticipation of LeBron can top an endorsement from its most famous former resident, President Barack Obama. Lauding a Bulls core that includes point guard Derrick Rose and forward Joakim Noah, President Obama said he could see LeBron fitting in "pretty well" in Chicago.
Free Agent Summit
"Summit" is a term traditionally reserved for diplomatic discussions on subjects of such worldly importance as global energy policy. After Dwayne Wade remarked that he would sit down with LeBron and some of the other free agents to discuss their future, the term took on a life of its own with Joe Johnson, Chris Bosh and others rumored to be among the cavalcade of stars colluding on the future of the NBA. Aside from a dinner between Bosh and Wade, the "summit" talks appear to have fizzled.
Though Los Angeles seems like an improbable destination, the Clippers have the cap room to make a run at LeBron. Speculation in June had billionaire David Geffen interested in buying a majority stake in the Clippers and wooing LeBron. And at least 75 Clippers fans desperate for a franchise turnaround took to the streets on May 28, hoping to bring the sport's biggest star to Los Angeles.
Cuban and Kerr Fined
Mavericks owner Mark Cuban traditionally matches every dollar he is fined by the NBA with a donation to a charitable cause. He may be in line for another write-off after a May interview with CNNMoney.com, during which Cuban responded to a question about his interest in James by saying that if the star forward decided he wasn't going to "leave the Cavs high-and-dry," then he could possibly try to force a sign-and-trade. Cuban said that scenario gives his Mavericks "a chance" at obtaining James' services. For his candor, Cuban was slapped with a $100,000 tampering fine. Suns GM Steve Kerr responded to the same query delivered by Dan Patrick on his May 14 radio show by joking that his team would be willing to offer James the mid-level exception of about 5.6 million, rather than the expected maximum contract of around $17 million per season that James is expected to require. David Stern (and working people everywhere) failed to see the humor and fined Kerr $10,000. Kerr later resigned in what he called a "professional and a personal" decision.
New York, New York
It didn't take long for the cities likely to be the most active in the LeBron sweepstakes to roll out the red carpets in preparation. For New York, it was an official "C'Mon LeBron" campaign, complete with beckoning from Mayor Michael Bloomberg. New York's celebrities have also been using their influences to sway LeBron. Diddy offered LeBron free Ciroc vodka for the rest of his life. And the Knicks have put together a team of celebrities, including Donald Trump and Chris Rock, to woo LeBron.
Oakley Trashes New York
Former Knicks big man and LeBron mentor Charles Oakley says his protege should steer clear of New York. In an interview with WQAM Radio in Miami, the always entertaining Oakley threw Patrick Ewing, Pat Riley and the Knicks under the bus before saying he "can't tell [LeBron] to go to New York. New York treated me bad"
Globetrotters Make Their Pitch
There could be a third New York-area team with eyes on LBJ this offseason, and unlike the Knicks and the Nets, this one offers the opportunity to win right now. The Harlem Globetrotters reportedly offered James and Dwyane Wade contracts laden with ownership and merchandising incentives to lure them to the team with a career record of 23,646-345. No word on the Washington Generals' interest in Joe Johnson or Chris Bosh.
Iron Chef: Cleveland
Even though LeBron has said his hometown team has the edge in re-signing him, Cleveland has still kept up a full-court press on LeBron since the Cavs' season ended in such disappointing fashion. "Iron Chef" Michael Symon said he'd cook for LeBron, friends and family once a month. And then there's the Indians' Class A affiliate, the Lake County Captains, who will encourage LeBron to stay by temporarily changing their name to the LeLake LeCounty LeCaptains.
Jay-Z Backs Off
LeBron and hip-hop mogul Jay-Z are close friends but what must worry the Cavaliers is that Jay-Z is also part-owner of the New Jersey Nets. In an interview with Rolling Stone , however, Jay-Z said he would not play a part in his friend's choice, saying it would be up to LeBron to make the best decision for himself.
LeBron Appreciation Day
LeBron's hometown of Akron, Ohio honored its favorite son by organizing "LeBron Appreciation Day" at InfoCision Stadium on the University of Akron's campus. The event was attended by 8,500 people, none bigger than the guest of honor, who arrived as the event was winding down to accept a "Hometown Hero" award from the city.