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Source: LeBron James Plans Elaborate Free Agency Tour

Jun 4, 2010 – 6:00 AM
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Sam Amick

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LeBron JamesLOS ANGELES -- In honor of LeBron James and his apparent insistence on being talked about during the NBA Finals, we interrupt coverage to share some free agency news about the league's King of hype.

According to a source with first-hand knowledge of James' plans, the Larry King interview that was shot Tuesday and will air Friday on CNN was only the beginning of his elaborate scheme to draw unprecedented attention to his courting. James, according to the source, is in discussions with Nike to create a new shoe for every visit along his free agent path starting July 1. The shoes would have the date of the visit printed, with James already having scripted his itinerary for the Free Agency Tour 2010.

The source insists that he'll head for New York first to visit with the Knicks, and then spend time with the Nets. Chicago will be next, with the Bulls hoping he wants to follow in the footsteps of Michael Jordan and become the Windy City's beloved star. Depending on the level of sustained public interest and the discussions with the teams in the respective cities, James will decide at that point whether to continue on to Miami and possibly Los Angeles to see the Clippers.

That disingenuous final stop would be Hollywood style in every way, with James putting on a smoke-and-mirrors show solely intended to create buzz in yet another big city and maintain the mystery of where he will go. And for what it's worth, the source expects James to return to the Cavaliers by the time the circus comes to an end.

While some media have certainly called James' tactics into question, NBA commissioner David Stern sidestepped a chance to do so before Game 1 on Thursday.

"I don't have a problem with it," he said when asked of the timing of James' interview with King. "It's fine. The same way it's fine to have the president talk to Marv Albert about where LeBron is going or about our game (as he did recently). It sort of tells me that our players have, through their hard work, captured the imagination of many, many people."

According to reports, James told King in his interview that the Cavaliers had an edge in the race for his services. This came, of course, weeks after Stern announced that he always prefers that prominent players stay with the team with which they came up through the ranks.

"I'm a recovering single-team person," Stern said. "LeBron will have played with Cleveland for seven years. That's a huge amount of time. Cleveland has been given the edge with respect to the raises they can give him and the length of his contract. I think that's a good thing. ... It's up to the players to decide where they want to go. They fought very hard for that right, and I'm perfectly fine with that."

As is James, who surely intends to keep every possible scenario -- and every eyeball, for that matter -- on his table until the end.

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