FORT WAYNE, Ind. -- Sometimes the most attention-getting promotions are also the cheapest.
The most recent and perhaps most extreme example of this maxim comes courtesy of the Peoria Chiefs, who will be honoring LeBron James on Thursday by giving away non-existent championship rings.
James, of course, has once again fallen short in his quest to earn his first NBA title. His Miami Heat lost to the Dallas Mavericks in the Finals, which concluded with the Mavericks' Game 6 win in Miami on Sunday.
The Chiefs' press release explains that the "replica ring, which like LeBron's is non-existent, will be handed out to all fans through the gates prior to the 7 p.m. game against Wisconsin." This simple stroke of conceptual genius has led to a deluge of national media attention.
"I thought we'd get some regional play and attention from Minor League blogs," said Nathan Baliva, the team's broadcast and media manager. "But I didn't expect that we'd be in USA Today, SI.com, the main page of Yahoo!, the main page of ESPN."
Baliva cites the Fort Myers Miracle and Lake Elsinore Storm as inspiration for the Chiefs' celebration of nothing-ness, as both teams have become adept at staging satirical ripped-from-the-headlines promotions. The Miracle recently held a "Rest the Vest" night in honor of disgraced Ohio State football coach and perpetual vest-wearer Jim Tressel. The Storm made waves with last month's "Sheen-Co De Mayo" celebration.
But this leads to a question of philosophical import: how does one give away "nothing"? Baliva said the team is still determining the logistics of such an endeavor.
"Maybe we'll have a giveaway table set up. Fans can go to it, and we'll hand them air," he said. "I'm sure we'll find a way to have fun with it."
The evening's other LeBron elements are equally ludicrous. The team claims to be looking into the possibility of "whether or not the game can skip the fourth inning to honor King James, who took off the fourth quarter of every Finals game."
The press release also states that fans will "have the opportunity to learn how to perform the Heimlich to prevent themselves or their colleagues from choking in a big situation."
Baliva notes that the evening's originally scheduled promotion will still be a primary focus: a tribute to the Chicago Bulls' championship teams of the 1990s. Memorabilia from those Michael Jordan-led teams will be displayed throughout the concourse with highlight reel dunks and championship moments featured on the videoboard.
But it's the jokes at LeBron's expense that have garnered the Chiefs so much attention, of course. Isn't it more than a bit ironic that the Chiefs are affiliated with the Cubs, a franchise that has now gone 102 years without a championship?
"I've seen that sort of criticism on [internet] comment boards," said Baliva. "But the people pointing that out are in North Carolina or California or wherever and didn't even know who the Chiefs were yesterday. And now they do."