UPDATE, April 3: As of yesterday, the billboard is up, right above the Kia dealership at NE Broadway and MLK:
Consider Portland officially in the LeBron James sweepstakes—that is, if the major criteria involves putting up a big sign somewhere in town asking him to come here.
Last week, the guys behind the popular Blazers streetwear brand Trillblazin' launched a crowdfunding campaign to erect a billboard enticing the Cleveland Cavaliers forward to sign with Portland as a free agent this summer, as other cities, including Philadelphia and Los Angeles, have done—albeit with a slightly different approach.
"LeBron, Dame Needs a Third Option," reads the proposed messaging, suggesting the greatest player on Earth would be positioned behind Damian Lillard, CJ McCollum and possibly Ed Davis on the team's depth chart.
Earlier this afternoon, the campaign leapfrogged its goal of $2,750, the amount it costs to occupy advertising space in the vicinity of Moda Center during the month of April, when the playoffs start. The only question now is just how close to the arena they can get.
"Something is going to get built at this point," says Trillblazin' co-founder Ira LaFontaine. "We're just seeing how good of placement we get."
LaFontaine and his partners, Keith Kunis, Nick Nanpei and Spencer Groshong, started raising money for the billboard on March 15, the day the Cavs lost to the surging Blazers in Portland. Donations skyrocketed today after the introduction of a "Sponsorship" level reward where, for $500, companies can get their name on the billboard as well. Sizzle Pie, Poler Outdoor Stuff and comedian Ian Karmel are among the contributors so far.
Signing James might seem like a long shot, and it is—one look at the Blazers' cap situation will tell you that. But Portland is currently the hottest team in the NBA, with the longest active win streak of 13 games, and James made it clear last week that he'd love to have Lillard as a teammate. (Plus he's a big fan of Oregon pinot.) While landing James might not be probable, as a wise, loud man once yelled…
So, given that the billboard is becoming a reality, might the organizers reconsider the wording?
"The wording is right where we want it," LaFontaine says. "There's maybe a little bit of trolling going on. But from LeBron's perspective, he's 33—if he's the third option, he can keep his legs young, and play a few more years. There's a few extra things you might not consider with other contenders."