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Fran Blinebury

Will the hometown pleas be enough to sway LeBron James to stay in Cleveland?
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Tour de LeBron: The Cleveland Cavaliers

Posted Jun 20 2010 10:37PM

Now that the Lakers and the Celtics have gone to the last seconds in the last minute of the last game and finally scratched and clawed and wheezed and battled to decide a champion, it's time for the really intense competition to begin.

Who gets LeBron James?


The LeBron Sweepstakes begin when the doors to free agency swing open on July 1. The two-time MVP will have a conga line of suitors winding from coast-to-coast.

The footlights of NewYork or the movie lights of L.A.? The salsa beat of Miami or the thundering Bulls hoofbeats of Chicago? The comfort of home in Cleveland or the mean streets of New Jersey? Fuhgeddaboutit.

Here's a tour of the prime spots where The King may end up.

This stop: the only NBA team he's ever played for, the Cleveland Cavaliers.

The on-court attraction

For all of the disappointment that has marked the past two springs, LeBron's teammates have been good enough to help him win 66 and 61 games, the best records in the regular season.

The off-court attraction

Home, sweet home. If he chooses to stick with the Cavaliers, it means the hometown connection and the pull of his Akron roots are a bond that he doesn't want to break, even for the bright lights of New York and L.A. or the salsa beat of Miami.

The challenge

How many times can you convince yourself to labor through the long slog of the regular season in order to secure the best record and home-court advantage in the playoffs if you don't get the payoff? Can a new coach and new teammates produce a new result?

The 'Tour de LeBron''s Fran Blinebury gives his odds for the six cities most mentioned as destinations for free-agent-to-be LeBron James in landing the reigning MVP.

Cleveland Cavaliers | Chicago Bulls | Miami Heat | New York Knicks | New Jersey Nets | L.A. Clippers
The local pantheon

Jim Brown, Paul Brown, Bob Feller, Jesse Owens. The Mt. Rushmore of northeastern Ohio will need a fifth chiseled visage if LeBron doesn't abandon ship.

The history

The Drive, The Fumble, The Shot Over Ehlo, losing to Orlando in 2009, losing to Boston in 2010. The history of Cleveland sports has been nothing but a tale of woe since the Browns won the city's last championship in 1964.

The minuses

Of all of the teams that would seem to be on his short list, the Cavs probably have the least wiggle room in terms of upgrading their roster. If the Grand Shaq Experiment didn't work this year, what's next?

The need

If LeBron turns his back on the hometown team that celebrated his arrival and has held him close to its heart for the past seven seasons, they might rather turn out the lights and close down the franchise than retreat to those days of the 17-win season.

The odds


Fran Blinebury has covered the NBA since 1977. You can e-mail him here and follow him on twitter.

The views on this page do not necessarily reflect the views of the NBA, its clubs or Turner Broadcasting.

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