In a statement so simple it could have been printed on a Bazooka Joe comic or in Maxim Magazine, economist John Skorburg of the University of Illinois at Chicago has determined that LeBron James’ presence in Chicago would net the city approximately $2.7 billion over six years. According to Crain’s Chicago Business, the city’s financial future would hang entirely upon LeBron’s ability to steer the Bulls deep into the playoffs consistently, while winning multiple titles. By those standards, James has made the city of Cleveland $162 over the past seven years.
Vegas oddsmakers currently have Chicago as the most likely spot for The King to land, as the Bulls have a talented enough squad to help James win his first NBA title. However, history is being made as James will meet for the much to-do free agent summit with Dwayne Wade, Joe Johnson, Amare Stoudemire and Chris Bosh, at which the group could agree to predetermined salaries to join forces and dominate the NBA for the next six years. During which time they’ll write slam books about other NBA players and totally not invite Kobe Bryant and Dwight Howard to their sleepovers.
Fudge the numbers, Chicago Business:
Chicago offers a big-market setting for Mr. James to increase his exposure. The New York Knicks also have salary-cap room and could make a stronger fame-and-fortune pitch. But that franchise lacks the Bulls’ nucleus of young talent, which NBA pundits believe offers the best chance for Mr. James to grab his elusive first NBA title — the real key to enhancing his endorsement deals and other commercial opportunities.
“Chicago has to convince LeBron that he can win championships there,” says Paul Swangard, managing director of the University of Oregon’s Warsaw Sports Marketing Center. “To maximize his off-court earning potential, it’s all about getting rings.”
Chicago also offers LeBron the safest landing spot for his mom, because have you seen Joakim Noah? But seriously, James’ current endorsement pull of $28 million per year makes his salary almost negligible, which makes the free agent summit all the more interesting.
In the meantime, the Cleveland Cavaliers won’t go down without a fight. The city of Akron announced over the long weekend that it will host a LeBron Appreciation Day. Said the Knicks, Bulls, Heat, Clippers, Nets and Mavericks, “Well played, Akron. Well played.”