May 19, 2010 at 04:41 PM EDT

Image Credit: Reuters/Aaron Josefczyk/LandovThe last time the New York Knicks went after a superstar free agent, they tried to impress him with a trio of Big Apple celebrities in an attempt to seal the deal: Chazz Palminteri, Star Jones, and Peter Boyle. Needless to say, then-Pistons forward Grant Hill didn’t sign with the Knicks back in 2000. But now, on July 1, Cleveland’s LeBron James will become the most-coveted free agent in basketball history, and New York is among the frontrunners to land him. Certainly, the team will be recruiting high-wattage Knicks fans to sell James on living and playing in Manhattan, but selecting the right mixture of celebs is crucial. If the Knicks were to send a jet to Cleveland with three famous New Yorkers best suited to sell LeBron on New York, who should they choose? Denzel Washington? Robert De Niro? Derek Jeter? Donald Trump?

The Chicago Bulls are also in the running for James, and their city can be expected to mount their own VIP recruitment campaign. Oprah? Bill Murray? President Obama? That’s a persuasive power trio on par with anything the Knicks can offer.

The city of Cleveland seems to understand what they’re up against, judging from their “We are the World” type effort to appeal to LeBron’s loyalty. Wow. This music video is so…Wow. Just…Wow. Let’s just say that after listening to that song, I would understand if the Rock and Roll Hall of Fame decided to leave town before LeBron. Fortunately for the Cleveland Cavaliers, their hopes to keep their young homegrown superstar don’t rest on the singing voices of the Norton Furniture Pitchman and the Cuyahoga County Commissioner.

Who should the Knicks put on a plane to Cleveland on July 1? Could anyone compete with Chicago’s triumvirate?

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