Lebron James will be a free agent. If he doesn't stay in Cleveland — and signs seem to point to him not — he'll need a new home next season.
In a PR stunt that is as Philadelphia as it gets, executives at Power Home Remodeling, a company headquartered in Chester, PA, took out three billboards outside of Cleveland, imploring James to consider selecting the Sixers as his next home.
A Philadelphia-based company put up three billboards on highway to downtown Cleveland this morning saying that city wanted LeBron. Here they are in order. pic.twitter.com/vntsa8h3mE— Darren Rovell (@darrenrovell) February 26, 2018
"When people talk about where LeBron was going to go, which has been a hot topic for a long time, Philly was always on the list but toward the bottom of the list," the company's co-CEO Asher Raphael said. "It's like everything else in Philly, at the bottom of lists, and it doesn't make sense. But it's not just that we have cap space, it would be the best team to join. He has the best chance of winning by coming here. The only reason people don't talk about that is it's Philadelphia."
The Sixers have a young core in All-Star starter Joel Embiid and likely Rookie of the Year Ben Simmons. They have the 2017 first overall pick Markelle Fultz working his way back onto the court, a collection of talented role players in Robert Covington, Dario Saric, T.J. McConnell and others, and as Raphael, an avid Sixers fan says, plenty of cap space.
James is friends with Simmons and the two share an agent. The move to Philly makes sense, and the billboards bring the potentiality of a James-Philadelphia marriage front and center.
"You can say it's a distraction. It's not. Not a distraction, it's actually very flattering," James said. "People in their respective city want me to play for them, I mean, that's cool, I think. That's dope."
James is 33-years-old and has played in the NBA for 15 seasons. He's already logged more games than Michael Jordan and shows no signs of slowing down. A move to Philadelphia could allow him to reinvent himself as he gets older and avoid needing to jump to a Western Conference power like the Rockets or Warriors to compete.
Raphael says the stigma of losing in Philly is gone after the Eagles won Super Bowl LII. And he was elated by James' response to the billboards — which were created quickly and completely in house.
"I was not only relieved, I was impressed by his response," the 37-year-old CEO, known for his embrace of Millenial ideas, said. "But I took from it is a couple things. One, it was meant as a compliment and it was classy and shows how much pressure he's been under for a really long time. It's not something he's foreign to. It was meant to be serious too, we want him to come play here. In my most optimistic opinion, he sees playing for the Sixers as a legit viable option."
"By having to ask the question — is he serious about Philadelphia — it's forcing the conversation that the option is yes."