CLEVELAND — The Cleveland Cavaliers used their home-court advantage to convince LeBron James to give them a few more years.
Hoping the comforts of home will sway James to stay, the Cavs made their presentation to the brightest star of the NBA’s star-studded free agent class Saturday. Following their meeting, which lasted a little more than one hour, general manager Chris Grant was pleased with the visit.
“We had a very good meeting with LeBron and his group,” Grant said. “We had fun and it was very interactive. We know LeBron well. I would characterize it as positive.”
The Cavs’ entourage, which included new coach Byron Scott, made the three-block drive to James’ downtown business offices to make their homespun pitch to the mega free agent. Hundreds of fans lined the sidewalks outside IMG headquarters with many holding signs saying “Home” and some throwing powder in the air to mimic James’ signature pregame routine.
James will meet with the Chicago Bulls later in the day.
Wearing a black T-shirt and shorts, James showed up less than after the Cavs, arriving in a silver sedan before heading upstairs to the eighth floor to listen to the Cavs.
Scott was accompanied by Grant, owner Dan Gilbert and assistant GM Lance Blanks.
The Cavs were the fifth team to visit with James, following New Jersey, New York, Miami and the Los Angeles Clippers. While those teams could offer James millions and, in some cases, a better roster, none of them had seven years invested in the 25-year-old and none could guarantee him that leaving home would bring him a championship.
With James as their leader, the Cavs made it to the playoffs in each of the past five years. But despite having the league’s best regular-season record, they fell short of a title, losing this year to the Boston Celtics in the second round.
Cleveland can offer $30 million more than any other team on a maximum-length contract, but James has said his only goal is to win championships.
The Cavs share his vision.
“We’ve done some amazing things the last five years,” Grant said. “We won a lot of games and went deep into the playoffs, but we’re not satisfied with anything we’re doing. We think it’s pretty incredible that LeBron chose to have these meetings in Cleveland, at his home.”
Grant politely declined to address any questions for the media gathered on the sidewalks outside the IMG building, which has been the epicenter for the summer’s free agent frenzy.
Cleveland fans, pained by decades of sports heartache and without a championship team to call their own since 1964, can’t bear the thought of life without LeBron.
“Without him, we won’t be anything,” said 20-year-old Jordan Martin, who came downtown to support James with his father and three brothers. “If he leaves, the team and the city won’t be the same.”