The fallout of the departure of LeBron James from the city of Cleveland will sting a little less once the large billboard of James is taken down from the side of a building downtown. James announce last week that he will be in a Maimi Heat uniform next season.
Workers started dismantling the 10-story banner that is picture of James in a Cavaliers jersey with his arms spread all the way out similar to the statue Christ the Redeemer in Rio De Janero, Brasil, one of the new seven wonders of the world.
No. 23 jerseys are being almost given away, most being used for lighting fires in the parking lots of pubs across Cleveland. Nike spokesman KeJuan Wilkins says the breakdown of the mural will not take long.
“We are removing the LeBron James Witness mural in downtown Cleveland and expect the process to be completed within a few days,” Wilkins said
The sign is located on the side of the Landmark Office Tower, and overlooks downtown Cleveland. The inscription above James with his head thrown back reads, “WE ARE ALL WITNESSES.” Saturday some cars pulled over, and some pedestrians paused for one last look at the player they hoped would bring them a championship.
Sporting goods stores across the area are selling LeBron jerseys for as low as $29.99, and some like Dick’s Sporting Goods offering an additional 75 percent off. Some bars and restaurants are giving discounts for turning in LeBron merchandise. McNulty’s Bier Market is offering a free beer to anyone who brings in a t-shirt or jersey. Another bar had free second rounds for anyone with a hat, t-shirt, or tattoo.
Cavs owner Dan Gilbert’s website Fathead.com has lowered the price of LeBron wall decals from $99.99 to $17.41. Gilbert posted a scathing letter to fans about James in which he accused the forward of giving up in the playoffs. Reception of the letter has been negative across the country, except in Ohio of course.
“LeBron James needs to go to another team with two superstars already so he can win a championship,” Gilbert said. “We will win a championship before [the Heat] do. … It’s not about him leaving. It’s the disrespect. It’s time for people to hold these athletes accountable for their actions. Is this the way you raise your children? I’ve been holding this all in for a long time.”
The Heat could add another big free agent signing to their roster as they have a meeting scheduled with Lakers guard Derek Fisher. He will listen to team president Pat Riley’s pitch that will likely include mentions of James, Dwyane Wade, and Chris Bosh.
NBA sportsbooks have yet to release futures odds for the 2011 NBA season, but they did have the Heat as the underdogs to sign James at -200.