Friday, March 23, 2018


It was another day, another billboard trying to influence LeBron James' free-agency decision this summer -- and another opportunity for the Cleveland Cavaliers superstar to pump the brakes on premature speculation about his future.

James revealed Friday -- after two digital billboards were commissioned in Akron, Ohio, reminding James, "There's no place like home" -- that he has been dealing with people trying to tell him where to go or what to do with his life since he was a high schooler in Akron.
"It's not that I ignore it," James said. "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."
The Akron billboards, which were paid for Alison McIntyre Baranek of Stouffer Realty, followed billboards that were already on display in Cleveland, urging James to join the Philadelphia 76ers, and in Los Angeles, recruiting James to the Lakers.
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.
Another digital billboard, also paid for by Baranek, will go up next week closer to James' home in Bath, Ohio, according to
"I haven't seen it," James said. "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."
While James might appreciate the time and attention that total strangers are investing in his future, he echoed his stance that now -- with the Cavs fighting for playoff seeding -- is not the time to openly opine about what he will decide to do in July, should he opt out of the final year of his contract with the Cavs to become an unrestricted free agent.

"I don't know if this is even the right time to talk about that," James 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."