Workers have removed the iconic "We Are All Witnesses" billboard of Lebron James in downtown Cleveland.
What has been put up in its place is far more depressing than the empty side of a building would have been.
Lebron James announced his "Decision" Thursday night before a nationwide audience on ESPN. He intends to sign with the Miami Heat. But the Heat quickly issued a statement saying they have no interest in signing the basketball superstar.
"Yeah, thanks for your interest, Lebron," read the brief press release from the Heat. "But the last few weeks have opened our eyes to a little fact: You're kind of a dick. No, not 'kind of.' That's an understatement. You are massive, egotistical dick, the likes of which we have never seen in professional sports. And that's really saying something. So we don't really want to be associate with you. Again: thanks for your interest in being employed by the Heat, but we'll pass and go ahead with Dwyane Wade and Chris Bosh. Good luck in your future endeavors! And we'll keep your resume on file."
The rejection means James won't play in Miami and can sign with the Knicks, Bulls, or Nets or return to Cleveland. But considering all those franchises were initially spurned by James' announced intention of playing for the Heat, they may not still welcome him with open arms.
In fact, the Bulls also issued a statement immediately after his announcement that read: "Hey, Lebron: get fked."
While Nets owner Mikhail Prokhorov was reportedly overheard telling people: "I will have him killed. This Lebron James shall die."
The Knicks or Cavaliers are now Lebron's most likely destination.
"We're pissed. I made that clear," said Cavaliers owner Dan Gilbert. "But we're also kind of desperate."
"As desperate as us? Not likely," read a statement from the Knicks. "We are easily more pathetic."
Lebron James is scheduled to announce where he will sign as a free agent on Thursday night at 9:00 p.m. ET during a special ESPN broadcast.
The televised event has prompted long lines outside of the several television shops in Cleveland, the only remaining American city that has yet to completely adopt television technology.
"I've been wanting one for years," said Cavaliers fan Walter Mischak, standing in a line outside of Hempy's TV And Radio Shop downtown. "But, like most people here in Cleveland, we can't really afford one. That's why I'm hoping they'll take a trade of my prize chicken here."
Hempy's TV owner Randy Hempy says he hasn't seen demand for televisions this high since the moon landing in 1969.
"I am almost completely sold out of my 14-inch, wood paneled, Admiral TV sets," he said. "At $129.99 they're the deluxe, most top-of-the line TV on the market. The Cleveland market."
While many Cleveland residents are trying to find the money to purchase a television, others are refusing to jump on the "fad."
"I won't be burned twice," said Cavaliers fan Steven Domchelski. "I caved a few months ago and bought a cassette player at my neighborhood pawn shop. I wasn't impressed. I'll just wait to get my Lebron news like I get most of my news: word-of-mouth, town crier or oral history."
In the latest move in a wave of conference realignment, league sources are reporting that the NBA’s Boston Celtics, Cleveland Cavaliers, and Orlando Magic are poised to accept invitations to join the Western Conference. The same sources cite increased exposure, greater revenues, and a higher level of play as the primary reasons for the move.
“This is a big day for us,” said Celtics coach Doc Rivers. “The Eastern Conference treated us well for decades, but we want to be where the best teams are. Plus, it’s hard to get comfortable in a conference where your playoffs air on TNT. You’re always worried aLaw & Orderrerun is going to preempt one of your games.”
“I don't think this was an easy decision for this franchise,” said Magic center Dwight Howard. “I knew that unless I died or lost a leg I’d be starting the All-Star Game for the East for the next 12 years. I grew up dreaming of playing in the real NBA, though, against the best players in the world. And now I finally have a chance to do it. It's about legacy. I can only prove myself in the Western Conference.”
Cavaliers officials are hopeful that the move will help the team retain free agent superstar LeBron James. “Giant contracts are nice and all,” said one team official, bBut now we can promise LeBron that those repeated midseason trips to Detroit and Indianapolis are a thing of the past. That’s huge.”
Commissioner David Stern who says he is now Western Conference Commissioner David Stern says he believes the creation of a mega-conference will improve the financial picture of the NBA.
"Honestly, I have no idea what will happen to what's left of the Eastern Conference," he says. "And I really don’t care. Maybe those teams can join the Big East or something. Their names and level of play are already sort of similar.”
Meanwhile, the Eastern Conference is left scrambling to populate its ranks. The conference has considered adding the University of Kentucky from the NBA, but there are concerns about whether coach John Calipari could get his squad’s payroll under the NBA’s $57.7 million salary cap and still put a competitive team on the court.
“At this point, we’ll take any team with five players. They don’t even have to be healthy or particularly good at basketball,” said New York Knicks coach Mike D’Antoni. “If anyone has a connection with the NBDL’s Fort Wayne Mad Ants, please have them call us.”
If they want to shoot one about the 2010 NBA Playoffs, the chubby guy who plays Larry Nance could easily do Shaquille O'Neal.
According to U.S. Department of Justice sources and those close to Lebron James camp, Lebron James will be broken up into several smaller corporations pursuant to the Sherman Antitrust Act. The agreement was reached when both parties agreed that the current structure and size of Lebron James was harmful to all involved.
Lebron James will be separated into six distinct corporations. Lebron James Global Marketing, Lebron James Entertainment, Lebron James Family, Lebron James Nike, Lebron James Basketball and Lebron James New York. As it was when Lebron James was a single entity, Lebron James Nike will remain the largest and most influential of the new businesses.
"Lebron James was never a true monopoly because monopolies crush opposition and Lebron James never actually won anything," said Michael Klein, lead negotiator for the U.S. government in the case. "But, it had grown so big it could not serve anyone's interests the NBA, the City of Cleveland, the public, Lebron James himself all were being harmed by size of Lebron James. This should fix that."
Lebron James himself, who will be allowed to decide which new Lebron James company he would like to lead, said the agreement relieves a lot of pressure.
"The days of corporations the size of Michael Jordan are over," he said. "We gave it a run, but it's a new world. I'm just happy to stay a part of one of these great companies."
James is reportedly deciding between taking the helm of Lebron James Global Marketing, Lebron James Nike or Lebron James New York.
"Running Lebron James New York is very tempting," said Lebron James. "It would be a new challenge. And I could grow the Lebron James brand there while Lebron James Basketball stays headquartered in Cleveland. Or moves elsewhere. Who knows. It's not my call anymore."
Lebron James Basketball will reportedly be headed by entertainer Jay-Z.
Lebron James and the Cleveland Cavaliers were eliminated in the 2nd round of the playoffs. And while Mr. James' stock may be down a bit, by no means is Cleveland ready to see him leave to New York, Chicago or anywhere else.
That's why they threw together this billboard campaign that's being rolled out across Cleveland today.