Wooing LeBron James: Politicians Shamelessly Courting NBA Superstar

That sound you heard at midnight? It was the floodgates opening as the quest to snag NBA superstar LeBron James officially began.

Today marks the start of the NBA's free agency season, the time of year when players whose contracts have expired can entertain offers to move to new teams.

This year, there are 10 of the league's top players offering their services to the highest bidder, but the biggest prize is King James, a two-time NBA Most Valuable Player who virtually single-handedly turned the woeful Cleveland Cavaliers into a title contender.

VIDEO: Michael Bloomberg stars in campaign asking LeBron James to play for the Knicks.
NYC Mayor: 'C'mon LeBron'

James, 25, has eager suitors across the nation giddy with visions of championship trophies. The New York Knicks, Chicago Bulls, Los Angeles Clippers, Miami Heat and his current team, Cleveland, are all making the big push to snag James and each one is willing to pay top dollar to bring him to their team.

The courtship of James may be the biggest free agency signing in NBA history -- so big that even elected officials are weighing in.

Of course it's nothing new for politicians to shamelessly beg on the campaign trail. "I need your vote," is perhaps the most often-heard mantra as Election Day draws near.

But usually the politicians are focused on their own jobs. Today they are clamoring to help James sort out his employment status, and nowhere is that effort greater than in Ohio.

Buckeye State Gov. Ted Strickland and Sen. Sherrod Brown, both Democrats, joined with local celebrities and ardent Cavaliers fans to win over James' heart with a song that was straight to the point -- "Please Stay LeBron."

The lyrics are anything but subtle: "Please stay LeBron, we really need you, no bigger market's gonna love you half as much as we do."

The Strickland/Brown chorus even slammed one other notable city vying for James' skills.

"New York's overcrowded, Those people are unbearable, And don't forget, the Knicks and Nets are terrible," they sang. "Please stay LeBron, we really need you, no bigger market's gonna love you half as much as we do."

James' hometown of Akron, Ohio, just 40 miles south of Cleveland, declared June 19 to be "LeBron Appreciation Day." Thousands of fans came to the event, which doubled as a rally to convince James to stay put.

The NBA superstar made a surprise appearance at the end of the event and his comments had the state buzzing to determine hidden meaning.

"Akron is my home, it's my life," James said after he accepted Akron's first Hometown Hero Award. "Everything I do is for this city. I'm going to continue to do great things. I love every last one of you all. Akron is home."

James Becomes Campaign Material

The courtship of the Cavaliers star has even seeped into Strickland's reelection battle against Republican John Kasich.

Kasich, a former congressman, mocked the Democratic incumbent and his music video, saying in an interview last month that he's "not singing in any chorus" to sway James to stay in the state.

Kasich said that compared to the nearly half-million Ohioans who have lost their jobs, he's not worried about James' employment status.

The Ohio Democratic Party responded by setting up a website called "Ohioans Against LeBron," which prominently featured Kasich's picture

The New York Knicks are one of the top teams in the running in the LeBron James Sweepstakes and Mayor Mike Bloomberg made a personal appeal to get James to play in the Big Apple.

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