Knicks backers challenge LeBron James to become true 'King of New York'

You can add New York to the list of cities courting LeBron James with a billboard.

A billboard near Madison Square Garden is challenging James to sign with the Knicks as a free agent with the phrase "King of New York? Prove it" and the hashtag #KingJamesNYC18.

The billboard was purchased by NYC Ads Co., a New York City-based marketing company.

Billboards in Akron, Ohio (touting the Cavaliers), Los Angeles (pitching the Lakers), Cleveland (selling the 76ers) and Portland, Oregon (promoting the Trail Blazers), also have been commissioned in the past several months. James, a four-time MVP, can opt out of his contract with the Cavs and test free agency this summer.

James' former teammate and close friend Dwyane Wade smiled when asked about the billboard recruiting tactics.

"Good luck," he said.

Unlike the Sixers and Lakers, the Knicks would have to shed significant salary to create the requisite cap space to sign James this summer.

After a Cavs' victory over the Knicks at Madison Square Garden earlier this season, James declared himself the king of New York in an Instagram post. The declaration rankled some Knicks players.

In an addendum to its billboard message, NYC Ads Co. posted a message on its Instagram account, acknowledging that James signing with the Knicks is a long shot.

"Some of you may think we're crazy and say there's no chance he ends up in NY," the company wrote. "I think why not? If you talk the talk you gotta walk the walk. You want to be considered the goat? Legend? Icon? I think the best way to solidify all that is winning a chip in NY a place that hasn't seen it in 40 years."

The Knicks haven't made the playoffs in five seasons and have lost at least 50 games in each of the past four seasons. The franchise last won an NBA championship in 1973.