All Hail—and Keep Hailing

June 20, 2010

Although many have tried, it's impossible to predict where LeBron James will sign after he becomes a free agent on July 1. Since his season ended last month with the Cavaliers' second-round playoff loss, James has limited his interviews to breezy chats with the likes of Larry King. At this point it wouldn't be a surprise if he gives the big scoop to Oprah or Regis and Kelly. There's a winking wouldn't-you-like-to-know quality to his remarks, suggesting that James is getting a kick out of the endless speculation over his future. If the King had been jotting down his innermost thoughts, the latest entries in the LeBron James Free Agency Journal might look something like this:

June 1

Welcome to the Summer of Me. I Googled my name today and saw that I've been mentioned more than 11,000 times—in the last 24 hours. SI.com has the LeBron James Watch, ESPN.com the LeBron Tracker, and there's a website called Countdown2LeBron.com. Might as well rename the month of July after me. Free agency would start on LeBron 1st. Independence Day would be the 4th of LeBron. Maybe the guys at Nike can make this happen. Just for this year, of course. I don't want to seem egotistical.

June 4

Cavs owner Dan Gilbert told me he's trying to get Tom Izzo from Michigan State to be Cleveland's new coach. If I stay with the Cavs, I'd be happy to have Izzo come work for me. I mean, with me. Work with me. I have got to stop doing that.

June 5

I'm hearing that a few critics think I'm getting drunk on the attention, that it's making me think I'm all-powerful. Not true. For instance, I'm humbled that President Obama took the time to weigh in on my status. As a thank-you, I'm going to make a couple of phone calls and get this BP oil spill cleaned up for him. Least I can do.

June 6

John Calipari, the Kentucky coach, just texted me for about the 10th time today. The guy is persistent—I can see why he's such a great recruiter. He says he'd love to coach me, wherever I end up. He also says the best thing is that in the NBA, teams don't forfeit wins or vacate championships. That seems really important to him.

June 9

It's hard to stay grounded when it's not just NBA teams that are chasing me. The Harlem Globetrotters announced today that they want me to sign with them. Maybe I should take it seriously—as I keep saying, it's all about winning, and nobody does that as much as the Trotters. Update: I just talked to Jamario Moon, one of my Cavs teammates. He played for the Globies in 2004 and said he made about $2,000 per week. I made around $16 million this season. You know what? It's not all about winning.

June 10

I just saw the video that Michael Bloomberg, the mayor of New York City, made to persuade me to come to the Knicks. It's called C'mon LeBron. Some of the greatest creative minds in the world are in New York—writers, rappers, advertising execs—and the best slogan they could come up with is C'mon LeBron? Anyway, if I go to New York, my mom might move there, too. I'll probably ask Mayor Bloomberg to find her a job. Nothing big, just something to keep her busy. I'm thinking maybe one of those deputy mayor gigs.

June 11

The World Cup began today. I'm a little irritated at how it's pulled media attention away from me. I might have to go to South Africa and get spotted wearing some soccer team's cap—like I did when I wore a Yankees lid. Then I'll leak it to the press that I'm interested in playing overseas, which isn't all that crazy—Manchester United would give me a better supporting cast than the Knicks.

June 12

Coach Cal on the phone again. Dude is absolutely blowing up my cell. He said if he were my coach, he would recruit any player I wanted to join us. I said I want Chris Bosh. Coach Cal said he was referring to high school seniors. I'm not sure this is going to work out.

June 13

I thought I'd be playing in Game 5 of the Finals tonight, but the Celtics really opened up my June schedule. Some people say my situation is taking attention away from the Finals, which is definitely not my intention. If the commissioner wants to talk about putting things on hold, it's fine with me. I just hope the Celts and Lakers won't mind postponing the last couple of games until after I sign.

June 14

This whole free-agency campaign was meant to increase my popularity, but is it possible that it's having the opposite effect? Are people starting to see me as someone with an incredible need to be stroked? I have to start working on appearing less self-absorbed. But first I want to take one more look at that video of Cleveland civic leaders desperately begging me to stay.

June 16

The tough thing about deciding where to sign is that every possibility has its pros and cons. That's why my guy William Wesley, a.k.a. World Wide Wes, is pulling a bunch of strings behind the scenes to create the perfect scenario. His plan is for me to sign with Chicago, then have the Bulls move to New York, at which point Pat Riley would leave the Heat and force out Tom Thibodeau as coach, and Russian billionaire Mikhail Prokhorov would sell the Nets, buy the franchise and arrange to play half our home games at my old high school gym in Akron. The only drawback is that the plan would leave Coach Calipari out of the picture.

I'm going to have to get a new cellphone number.

Talk Back

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Might as well rename the month of July after me. Free agency would start on LeBron 1st. Just for this year, of course. I don't want to seem egotistical.

PHOTOJOHN BURGESS

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