NBA teams line up for LeBron James

LeBron James, #23 of the Cleveland Cavaliers

TEXT OF STORY

Bill Radke: A one-man business story is playing out in the NBA: Cleveland Cavaliers star LeBron James is set to become a free agent. Other teams are lining up to lure him away and the Cavaliers are working creatively to keep King James where he is. Marketplace's Jill Barshay reports.

Lebron James Music Video: Please stay LeBron. We really need you . . .

Jill Barshay: That's a new music video in which Ohio's governor, Ted Strickland, is begging LeBron James to stay in Cleveland.

Paul Swangard runs a sports marketing program at the University of Oregon. He says Cleveland's desperate to keep LeBron's star power; he fills stadiums, boosts television ratings and brings in oodles of corporate sponsorships.

Paul Swangard: It could be tens of millions of dollars in franchise value that just sort of vanishes the day LeBron steps on a plane to a new market.

And plenty of other cities are jockeying for LeBron. Cleveland may outbid them,but Swangard says LeBron might take a smaller paycheck for a team that can bring him a championship ring -- the one thing he still lacks.

Swangard: He understands that his marketability can be ratcheted to a whole new level with a larger market to provide a stronger platform for him.

LeBron is often compared to another global marketing icon: Michael Jordan. And one of LeBron's top suitors is the Chicago Bulls, Michael Jordan's former team.

I'm Jill Barshay for Marketpace.

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