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LeBron Jame$?

By Marcus Gilmer in News on May 31, 2010 7:00PM

We're still a month away from NBA free agency season and there's plenty to talk about with the big upcoming market (a bit more on that tomorrow) but already, eyes are not only turning towards LeBron James but also to the trail of green that might follow. University of Illinois at Chicago economist John Skorburg tells Crain's that if LeBron were to make the United Center his new home for six years, he could bring in as much as $2.7 billion to the city. Well, provided he leads the Bulls deep into the playoffs and wins a ring or two. And in the category of "getting ahead of ourselves," Crain's speculates further:

Returning to an NBA championship could boost the Bulls' value by 20% to 50%, history suggests, to between $613 million and $760 million, according to Forbes magazine's estimate of the franchise's worth. The value of the Miami Heat shot up more than 45% from 2004 to 2006 thanks to an NBA title. Even storied franchisees get a big lift: The Celtics' value rose 22% in two years with their 2008 championship; the 2004 league title pushed the Detroit Pistons' value up 41% in two years.

James leads a mega-super-duper-star free agent class this year, including Dwyane Wade, Chris Bosh, Joe Johnson, and Amare Stoudemire.