Beards, Sandwiches, and Speedways: What Cities Are Using to Woo LeBron

As free agency draws near, the top runners are getting desperate

This article is from the archive of our partner .

NBA fans, sports fans or anyone who's glanced at ESPN for the past week is aware of the countdown that ends tonight. At midnight, professional basketball players without contracts will officially become free agents—the biggest being Lebron James. A primer: There are six teams that can outright afford James, which means paying him at least $97 million over the course of five years. Clearly, for these front runners, money isn't an issue. So with that taken out of the equation, how else can they win over Lebron? Here are some of the odder offerings.

  • His Own Sandwich  According to Jake Pearson at The New York Daily News, Carnegie Deli, the famous spot known for naming outrageous sandwiches after celebrities, has already created a "LeBron MVP" in honor of the potential Knick. As the first to finish the monster, lifelong Knicks fan Brian Seiken said, "LeBron I did this for you, now do the right thing and sign with the Knicks."
  • A Speedway  Jeff Gluck at reports that the president of the Chicagoland Speedway has offered to temporarily rename the NASCAR track "The LeBron James Speedway" if the superstar shows up to the July 10th race and, presumably, to play for the Bulls. He says, "Chicagoland president Craig Rust wrote a letter to James offering to rename the track – complete with signage and a logo painted on the infield grass – if James attends the race as a special guest."
  • An Arena...and Jay-Z  To be fair, the New Jersey Nets' Brooklyn arena plans have been in the works for some time, but with at least a five-year contract for James, and the completion of the arena set two years from now, a brand new state-of-the-art place to play is pretty tempting. What else is tempting? "Having his buddy Jay-Z as minority investor doesn't hurt," says Marc Berman at the New York Post.
  • A Winning Team  In a story that breaks down the offering ability of each team, the Associated Press says that Miami has "enough money to afford James, another max player and still have enough left over for a solid third piece." This could potentially ensure that not only will James head to Miami, but also another star player, Chris Bosh and, more than likely, the Heat will hold onto Duane Wade, creating a potential NBA "Super Team."
  • Beards  Lighthearted rallying of the city? Or desperate attempt to hold on?  In any case, the men folk in Cleveland are growing beards for LeBron. According to Chris Tomasson at NBA Fanhouse, "one Cleveland radio station at the start of June began "Beards for Bron.'' Yes, WKNR-AM is having its staff members (male, that is) grow beards and asking listeners to do likewise as sign of support in the hope beard-clad James will re-sign with the Cavaliers."
This article is from the archive of our partner The Wire.