“If lawmakers were able to vary the tax burden for LeBron, like they often do to attract new industry, then we’d really see cities compete for athletic stars,” he said.
Mr. Bloomberg’s video is part of New York’s marketing campaign designed by the Bartle Bogle Hegarty advertising firm, bluntly titled “C’mon LeBron.”
The media crusade features a Facebook page, live Twitter feed, professionally made T-shirts, large demonstrations, and a barrage of digital advertising in Times Square.
The “C’mon LeBron” website features videos by such New York denizens as NBC’s “Today” show host Matt Lauer, chef Mario Batali and the Rev. Al Sharpton imploring Mr. James to reverse the Knicks’ fortunes.
The city can’t break down how much BBH is being paid for its work because the company is on a yearly retainer, according to the New York Times. But although this campaign is designed to invoke booster club enthusiasm indicative of smaller cities, New York still cannot avoid flaunting its overwhelming marketing resources - in this case, celebrities and politicians.
“More than anything, it’s the in-group to belong to,” said Kevin Quinn, an economics professor at St. Norbert College and the director of the “Sport and Society in America” conference that took place earlier this year.
“Politicians and celebrities are drawn to public attention like moths are to street lamps,” said Mr. Quinn. “I think it’s more schtick than anything else.”
The number of “moths” keeps growing.
According to a New York Post report, the Knicks have formed a committee of A-list celebrities to help lure Mr. James. The members include Donald Trump, Spike Lee, Alec Baldwin, Tracy Morgan, Boomer Esiason and Chris Rock.
Mr. Rock already has his pitch for Mr. James cued up.
“You really want to live in Cleveland,” Mr. Rock told the Post. “That’s what I would tell him. Where do you want to live?”
Clearly, Cleveland faces a daunting media blitz from New York. But it’s not giving up just yet.
The Lake Erie Crushers - a minor league baseball team of the independent Frontier League based in Avon, Ohio - is planning to offer Mr. James a max contract of $1,600. According to General Manager Ryan Gates, this package includes suite space and a host family to “take him in and give him home-cooked meals.”
The Crushers will wear Cavaliers-themed jerseys next Wednesday and each player will wear No. 6 to honor Mr. James switch from No. 23. The team is also renaming its park LeBron James Field at All Pro Freight Stadium for the game.
Apparently, Cleveland seeks to trump the dazzle and boldness of New York’s star-studded marketing campaign in the free agency battle for Mr. James with modesty and self-deprecation.