By Jill Colvin
MIDTOWN WEST – It's the thought that counts, right?
A giant storage bin set up behind Madison Square Garden to collect gifts for delivery to LeBron James sat empty on Wednesday, with only a couple of items to fill the moving boxes lining the cavernous container's walls.
Moishe's moving company set up the bin with the expectation that fans hoping to lure James to the Knicks would drop off gifts, cards and other encouraging items to fill the 16-foot-long container, but even after doubling their hours at the site, the bin remained nearly empty when it was hauled away at the end of the day.
Just five companies, including DNAinfo, offered gifts for James, which ranged from logo t-shirts, to a promotional brochure and unlimited free BBQ from a competitive cooking group called "Smoke In Da Eye" BBQ.
Joe Li, 20, who lives in Gramercy, and Mike Schamis, 24, who lives on Roosevelt Island, delivered a sweatshirt, hat and a cut-out on behalf of Soup Man, though there was no promise of free soup.
But despite the paltry showing, the effort was not completely wasted.
Soon after the event began, empty-handed passers-by began scrawling messages urging James to join the Knicks on the side of the red and black container. By the end of the day, the sides were covered with colorful pleas, despite the pouring rain.
"Please help the Knicks, they really suck… We need you," one desperate fan asks. Others proclaimed James "The Savior of N.Y. Knick Basketball" and the future "King of New York."
"I think it's gonna show him that he has a lot of fan love here, maybe more than in Cleveland," said Paul Hodge, 21, a student at TCI College of Technology who lives in the Bronx, of the effort.
"Please, C'mon man, your [sic] needed, we love you," he wrote.
Knicks fan Raphael Figuereo, who also goes to school at TCI, said he thought the messages were a great idea.
"It's important to let a player know it's not just about the money, it's about coming to a team and a family," said Figuereo, who lives in the Bronx.
Ita Mar, community manager for Moishe's, said that the company still planned to deliver the bin to James at his Ohio home. Mar said that while the company had been expecting to receive dozens of gifts, including cards from several school classes, the impromptu signing will likely mean more to James when he sees the bin.
"My expectations were far exceeded by the overwhelming response and enthusiasm," he said. "He can see these are people who really want to see the team succeed."
The superstar player has already been courted by everyone from President Barack Obama to Mayor Michael Bloomberg, and has been offered everything from free lap dances to steak dinners for life if he signs with the team.
The city has even launched a "C'mon LeBron" media campaign dedicated to convincing James to make the move to New York.
Still, most seemed skeptical that any plan would work.
FedEx deliveryman Marshall Eustace, 39, of the Bronx, said no amount of begging James will help lure him to the team.
"He's not coming," Eusace said. "He's going to Chicago....There's no team here."
James has said that he's leaning toward staying in Cleveland.
If you'd like to try making the case yourself, Moishe's will be collecting gifts through the weekend. Residents can arrange pick-ups by calling 1-800-266-8387.