Subplots were aplenty for Sunday’s game between the Cleveland Cavaliers and Los Angeles Lakers, including Jordan Clarkson, Larry Nance Jr. and Isaiah Thomas all facing their former teams. But there also was LeBron James and the endless free agent rumors that tie him to the Lakers.
In the days leading up to Cleveland spending their weekend in Los Angeles, Lakers season-ticket holder and attorney Jacob Emrani paid to have billboards put up throughout the city, recruiting James. The ‘#LABron’ message highlighted the franchise’s history and pitched James as the next player to have his jersey retired by the Lakers.
Similar to the sentiment he expressed when a Philadelphia 76ers fan did the same with Cleveland billboard, James said he was honored by the gesture. However, he also refuted having a list of teams he’d potentially sign with, which purportedly included the Lakers.
Come tipoff at Staples Center, fans were buzzing and the atmosphere was similar to that of when the building has hosted playoff games. Fans greeted James with a rousing applause during pregame introductions that rivaled what Paul George received in his homecomings this season.
And like he did in January for George, the same courtside fan was on hand with a customized Lakers jersey that had James’ name on the back with his No. 23.
Same fan who wore a Lakers jersey customized with Paul George's name is here tonight with one for LeBron James. #LABron pic.twitter.com/XnFXENQbzk
— Matthew Moreno (@MMoreno1015) March 12, 2018
With their deadline day trade with the Cavaliers, the Lakers put themselves in position to sign two free agents to max-level contracts. George and James figure to be at the top of their wish list, and that of many other teams.