LOS ANGELES -- LeBron James is in Los Angeles this weekend and one diehard Lakers fan wants him to return for good this summer.
Jacob Emrani, a personal injury attorney and longtime Lakers season ticket holder, is the latest to put up billboards with messages trying to sway James' potential free agent decision this summer.
Emrani says he has paid to put up four billboards around Los Angeles trying to recruit James to join the Lakers in free agency in response to previous billboards erected in Cleveland and Pennsylvania trying to convince James to join the? Sixers and remain with the Cavaliers, respectively.
As the Cavaliers make their only trip of the regular season to Los Angeles to face the Clippers on Friday and the Lakers on Sunday, Emrani wants James to know he's wanted in purple and gold. The Lakers have the ability to create as much as $70 million in cap space to pursue two max free agent stars like James and Oklahoma City's Paul George this summer.
The Lakers do not have anything to do with the billboards. The organization has already been fined by the NBA twice for tampering charges. The Lakers were fined $500,000 for tampering when the league said general manager Rob Pelinka contacted George's agent before the season and then another $50,000 for comments team president Magic Johnson made praising Milwaukee's Giannis Antetokounmpo.
Emrani, who owns The Law Offices of Jacob Emrani, paid for four billboards. Two went up Wednesday morning -- one in Westwood and the other on the 710 freeway. They all have the hashtag #LABron on them. One also says "Cleveland & Philly, You Can't Compete with L.A." with a No. 23 jersey in purple accompanied by a gold crown. Another says "FORGET THE PROCESS, WE WIN BANNERS!"
"One of [the billboards] is shooting back at both Philly and Cleveland regarding the fact that they can't compete with L.A.," Emrani, who has advertised with ESPN radio in Los Angeles for almost 10 years, told ESPN. "... We don't need a 'Process.' In L.A., we win banners dude."
"Stop spending your money," Emrani added of his message to Sixers fans. "Philly feels like they can convince him to come and complete a startup. We are not about startups here. They got a startup over there. We got legacy here."
Emrani says one of the other billboards set to go up features the retired Lakers jersey numbers of Kareem Abdul-Jabbar, Magic Johnson, Shaquille O'Neal and Kobe Bryant with James' No. 23 next to them.
Last week, three billboards popped up in downtown Cleveland with messages trying to convince James to sign with the Sixers this summer. One sign read #PHILLYWANTSLEBRON, COMPLETE THE PROCESS and a third with an outline of half a court with the Sixers' starting five numbers on the court but with one of the five numbers a 23 in maroon with a crown above it. Those billboards were put up by Power Home Remodeling, a company based in Chester, Pennsylvania.
Emrani said he began thinking and creating the Los Angeles billboard messages a week ago when he saw the others pop up in Cleveland.
"I am going to tell you, for the past week I think I have stopped practicing law and this is all I am doing," Emrani joked. "I am a Lakers fanatic. I have been a season ticket holder for 20 years and I follow them every day. ... I got respect for [James] and I feel like as a private citizen, I am going to put my dollars behind my passion and recruit him. This is the best place for him. and I think he can cement his legacy if he takes his third team and win a championship and where better than L.A.?"
Emrani would not divulge how much he paid for the billboards but he said he has over 50 billboards advertising his companies across Los Angeles and that the average for a billboard is "anywhere between $7,500 to $25,000 depending on location."
He plans on having the James billboards up for the month and he may move the locations to increase visibility.
"This is a first. If this goes well, I'm planning to do the same thing for Paul George sometime down the road," Emrani said. "What I am hoping to accomplish is for LeBron to know how badly he is wanted here. ... This is going to be the best situation here. We bring him the weather, we bring him his two houses, all of his business partners are out here. His future."