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Akron realtor posts two billboards to woo LeBron James

From NBA media reports

The billboard race to sway LeBron James has some hometown flavor now, too. 

Fans in cities across the NBA landscape have either put up or are in the process of putting up billboards to try and sway the Cleveland Cavaliers’ superstar to sign with their team this summer. Days ago, Portland was the latest to get into the mix after fans surpassed the amount needed to put up a billboard in that city.

According to Cleveland.com’s Jennifer Conn, Akron has gotten into the mix as well. Realtor Alison McIntyre Baranek put up the signs in Akron, which is, of course, the hometown and birthplace of James. 

Here’s more from Baranek on why she felt the need to put the billboards up:

Alison McIntyre Baranek, a realtor with Stouffer Realty in Fairlawn, posted the billboards on behalf of all Akron fans.

“It just seems right to reach out to him and let him know we want him to stay, to show him some hometown love,” she said. “He does so much for our community, especially the kids. Akron is so much better with him here.”

One billboard, on I-77 north of Copley Road, went live last night and will remain up for 30 days. A second billboard is going up for four days – the only slot available – March 28-31 on Route 18 in Medina.

She selected the billboards for the highest visibility and ones she could rent fastest. And she designed them herself. Both  billboards will change every few days.

Baranek’s Akron billboard pictures ruby athletic shoes with No. 23 and the message: “LeBron, There’s no place like home #ThisIsHome.”

“I want to corral the whole community to get behind ‘#ThisIsHome,'” she said. “Hopefully people will embrace that and use it. This is LeBron’s home. We want him to stay.”

Similar types of billboards have been launched by other fans, first by a remodeling company in Philadelphia (which put the billboards installed in Cleveland) and also by an attorney in Los Angeles (who had them put up in L.A.). James can become a free agent this summer and many fan bases around the NBA are hoping their team takes a shot at signing him.

The minds behind ‘Trillblazin’, a Trail Blazers-themed social media presence, started a Go Fund Me campaign to raise $2000 for a LeBron billboard in the city. According to The Oregonian‘s Tim Brown, the group quickly surpassed that goal after getting donations from around the country, as well as from local business and celebrities who hail from Portland (such as comedian Ian Karmel and the rock band Portugal The Man).

Personal injury attorney Jacob Emrani put up four billboards around Los Angeles to try and woo James, who can enter free agency this summer. ESPN.com reported the Philadelphia billboards were leased by Power Home Remodeling, a company based in Chester, Pennsylvania. The company’s CEO says the goal is to bring James, a three-time NBA champion, to Philadelphia because “we think the best athletes should want to play here.”

When the billboards in Philadelphia were erected, James couldn’t help but be flattered by them.

“You can say it’s a distraction, it’s not. Not a distraction,” James told reporters on Feb. 27. “It is actually very flattering that I’m sitting here at 33 and in my 15th year and teams or guys — I don’t want to say teams because that becomes tampering — but people in their respective city want me to play for them. That’s cool I think. That’s dope.”

The 33-year-old James can opt out of his contract this summer with the Cavaliers. He’s said in the past that he would like to end his career with Cleveland, but because he hasn’t given the team a long-term commitment, there is constant speculation that he may leave his home state a second time.

James famously announced he was taking his “talents to South Beach” and signed with the Miami Heat in 2010. He won two NBA titles in four years with the Heat before returning to Cleveland in 2014

Information from The Associated Press was used in this report.

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