People traveling along I-480 in Cleveland on Monday might be distracted by three billboards located approximately 7 miles from the Cleveland Cavaliers‘ Quicken Loans Arena.
The first sign features “#23” in maroon with a crown on it on the court with four blue numbers, numbers that just happen to match the Philadelphia 76ers jerseys of Ben Simmons, Joel Embiid, Dario Saric and Robert Covington.
The second billboard several hundred feet farther says “Complete The Process.” And the third says “#PhillyWantsLeBron.”
The signs seem to be inspired by “Three Billboards Outside Ebbing, Missouri,” the Academy Award-nominated film starring Frances McDormand and Woody Harrelson, in an attempt to convince LeBron James to leave his native Ohio and head to Philadelphia via free agency this summer.
The 76ers will be in town to play the Cavaliers on Thursday night in a nationally televised game, but the team has nothing to do with the billboards, and can’t have anything to do with them, since that would be considered tampering. The billboards, which will be up for three months, were put there by Power Home Remodeling, a company based in Chester, Pennsylvania.
“We’re passionate about Philadelphia,” said Asher Raphael, the company’s co-CEO. “We have an amazing city, it’s the best sports town and it’s an awesome place to live. We think the best athletes should want to play here.”
While billboards done by outside companies typically have no impact on a player’s free-agency decision, Raphael said he posted these to put Philadelphia in the conversation.
“LeBron is in the conversation of being the best player of all time,” Raphael said. “We think if he comes to Philly, he gets a couple more championships.”
Having LeBron join Simmons and Embiid after this season, isn’t a pipe dream. The 76ers have the cap space to do it.
Raphael won’t disclose how much the billboards cost, but did say his team picked out the spot based on his ability to have three unobstructed signs in a row on a major roadway.
Rafael also said he wasn’t worried about advertising his company on the signs. In fact, he said he would have preferred if his company’s logo was not included.
“The billboard company said they considered what we were doing to be a political ad and wouldn’t sell it to us if we didn’t follow those rules,” Raphael said. “So they made us say, ‘Paid for By.'”
The company has 2,400 employees in 14 states, but it doesn’t have an office in Ohio.