The news today about the LeBron James sweepstakes has been fast and furious. Sources all over the place are claiming that he's headed for the Knicks, or the Heat, or staying with the Cavs. The Bulls signed Carlos Boozer, though as of late they still haven't been labeled front runners. Perhaps the only person who knows where King James will be playing basketball next year is James himself.
...or maybe his accountant?
This rumor is coming out of the hard to believe, but seems to be true department. Earlier today, Eric Mansfield, a news anchor for WKYC-TV in Cleveland tweeted something rather interesting...
FLASH: Summit Co. processed request TODAY to change address on tax bill for BJ'S home from an LLC in Cleveland to a new address in Chicago
We confirmed that the address change has taken place. To verify yourself, follow these instructions:
The relevant information is that the 2008 tax bill for the property, which is owned in the name of LeBron James and Rachael Investments LLC, was sent to an address in Ohio, c/o (care of) Kurt Schoeppler. Who is Kurt Schoeppler?
He's LBJ's financial advisor. The new c/o on the Chicago address is the CPA firm Weinberg Solheim Howell & Shain, located on LaSalle Street in downtown Chicago.
So what does this mean? It means that the property tax bills for the house that James owns in Cleveland are no longer being mailed to the Cleveland based office of his financial manager, but rather to a CPA firm in Chicago that caters to high net-worth individuals... including the first family.
Now there could be very legitimate reasons for hiring this CPA firm in Chicago, that have nothing to do with where he will play for the next several years. Perhaps James likes Chicago accountants. Perhaps the firm in question has a personal connection to his financial manager Schoeppler, or another of James' inner circle. Maybe he got a recommendation from the President himself. For all we know, someone on James' side could have picked a random name out of the yellowpages and decided to transfer James' accounting to them.
But... it still seems like an awful lot of trouble, shipping tax bills and the like, to a Chicago based CPA firm if LeBron's principal place of business is essentially going to be in NYC, Cleveland, or Miami. Even if Weinberg is an absolutely wonderful CPA firm, I would have a hard time believing there are not comparable firms, who also cater to high net-worth individuals (athletes, celebrities, etc) located in NYC or Miami.
Given all that, the conclusion I've come to is that:
This is real. LeBron James (or his financial manager) has really hired this accounting firm to do his taxes. It is not a red herring to confuse people on where he is going to play -- changing the address on ones' tax bill and expecting it to leak to the public is relatively ridiculous.
It may have nothing at all to do with where he is going to be playing basketball.
So, take it for what it's worth.