LeBron’s Akron Media Outreach: Too Little, Too Late

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akron_lebronBy now you’re certainly heard about NBA star (or should I just call him “reality star”?) LeBron James’ ad in the Akron Beacon Journal reaching out to his hometown; but ignoring Cleveland, the city that made him a larger than life star. Now I know what you’re saying:

“Aren’t Cleveland and Akron like the same-thing?”

Well, yes and no, and no, not really.

They’re a 30 minute drive from one another. It’s like saying Chicago and Evanston are one in the same.

So James really wanted to do something about the public relations Hiroshima he unleashed on his home community? He should made a similar gesture to CLEVELAND!

You may have heard that they HATE HIM there. Especially when attention-whores wear LeBron James Miami Heat jerseys to Cleveland Indians games.

If I could quote the Evil Emperor in Return of the Jedi, “I feel your ANGER.” The only advice I can give here is take up the habit of your city’s all-time greatest hip-hop artists, Bone Thugz n Harmony. That could mellow you people out. Or read this column, since so few of you have, and I spent too much time on it to have so few page views.

I guess I have to accept the fact that I’m not huge in Cleveland.  Well, at least I still have Cedar Rapids, Iowa.

By Paul M. Banks

So here’s an AP writeup, courtesy of NBA.com reporting on what James said in the paper:

“Akron is my home, and the central focus of my life,” James wrote in Tuesday’s Akron Beacon Journal. “It’s where I started, and it’s where I will always come back to.”

Conspicuously absent from the ad is any mention of Cleveland, home of the Cavaliers, the team that James famously dumped in a much-maligned ESPN television special last month. The ad features photographs of James at his annual charity bike-a-thon, where he hands out hundreds of bicycles and joins a mile-long ride through downtown Akron. Despite speculation that James might skip the event, he has said he plans to show up on Saturday.

The traditional eight-mile trek that follows the ride has been canceled this year.

“It was here where I first learned how to play basketball, and where I met the people who would become my lifelong friends and mentors,” James wrote in the ad. “Their guidance, encouragement and support will always be with me.”

The ad appeared two days after former Cavs player Zydrunas Ilgauskas took out a similar ad in The Plain Dealer to thank Cleveland fans for their support. A veteran who played backup to Shaquille O’Neal last season, Ilgauskas quickly followed his friend James to the Heat in July, in search of his first championship ring.

It’s going to take a lot more than this for damage control.

Photo at the top courtesy of Cleveland Frowns. The best Cleveland sports site I know of.

Paul M. Banks is President and CEO of The Sports Bank.net , a Midwest focused webzine. He is also a regular contributor to Chicago Now, the Chicago Tribune’s blog network, Walter Football.com, the Washington Times Communities, Yardbarker Network, and Fox Sports.com

You can follow him on Twitter @thesportsbank and @bigtenguru

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