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Issue Date: April 2008


The Influentials: {LeBron James}

Cleveland Cavaliers player/superstar

There are kids in China wearing the word “Cavaliers” across their chests. There are more in Africa. And Europe. And Los Angeles. And everywhere else across the globe. That’s because LeBron James plays here. The Chosen One has raised the stature of our city. We aren’t being kicked around on the playground anymore. No, now Cleveland walks with a swagger. Other cities want what we’ve got — a bona fide star whose presence opens doors and captures headlines. His name means power and equates to money — lots and lots of it. It’s not about wanting to “be like Mike” anymore. Instead, the 23-year-old Akron native wants to become a global icon, and he’s pretty darn close to achieving that goal. He’s got worldwide selling power — hundreds of millions of dollars a year, including everything from jerseys to Sprite to cash generated from games broadcast overseas. Speaking of which, each of the NBA Finals games last June was watched by more than 100 million people in China. James is learning Mandarin. The potential is obvious and enormous. King James’ billboard on Ontario Street stands 110 feet high and 212 feet wide — strong and captivating. It reminds us of what we already know: In this town, no one is bigger than LeBron. And, as he continues to win over the world, he’s taking us with him.

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