Nets, Knicks Get First Crack at Wooing LeBron James

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CLEVELAND — The New Jersey Nets are on the clock in their courtship of LeBron James.

Nets billionaire owner Mikhail
Prokhorov
and rap mogul Jay-Z are in Cleveland to make their pitch to
the two-time MVP, who became the most celebrated free agent at 12:01
a.m. Thursday.

Prokhorov, who intends to give
James a global pitch during New Jersey's expected two-hour
presentation, was accompanied by new Nets coach Avery Johnson and club
president Rod Thorn. Jay-Z is a part owner of the Nets and a longtime
friend of James.

After landing at Hopkins
International Airport at 10:36 a.m., the Nets' contingent made the short
drive to Cleveland to meet with James at the office of his business
manager, Maverick Carter. James arrived about eight minutes before New
Jersey's delegation.

James was driven from his home
in Akron in a white SUV and was quickly escorted through a side door at
the IMG Building, where dozens of reporters and photographers were
waiting. Wearing a gray Nike T-shirt and sunglasses, he made a brief
stop in the lobby before heading up to Suite 823, the headquarters of
LRMR Marketing, the company James began with Carter and two other
longtime friends.

When Jay-Z strolled through the lobby, several customers in a cafe adjacent to the lobby applauded and yelled his name.

The Nets will be followed by the
cross-river rival New York Knicks, who will attempt to sway James into
leaving home for the league's largest market. New York's group will
include owner James Dolan, president Donnie Walsh, coach Mike D'Antoni
and former Knicks guard Allan Houston.

The Miami Heat and Chicago Bulls
are expected to meet with James on Friday, with the Cavaliers scheduled
to visit with him Saturday.

Cleveland's hoping that James'
loyalty to home will keep him in Ohio. The team gave him something to
consider as free agency opened by offering Byron Scott their coaching
job. Scott's agent, Brian McInerney, told the AP that Scott has
accepted the position.

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