Because of the blog noise created by NBA free agency this year - a.k.a. "The Summer of 2010", a.k.a. "the Summer of LeBron" a.k.a. "LeBron-a-palooza" I've decided to write this little dig as a response to all those who are now crying "LeBron is an egotistical D-Bag". Lend me your ears... or your large inflated contracts. Your choice.
THE BACKDROP, IN BRANDS WE TRUST! - I WAX SOCIOLOGICAL (Don't skip this, it's important)
Whether you agree or not - we do in fact live in a society run by brands.
Test - I guarantee that anyone of you could recognize and name over 100 brands - while you would undoubtedly be hard-pressed to recognize and identify more than a dozen plants in the wilderness.
In the olden days marketing was driven by visual advertisements that sold products because of their quality and durability. Time moves on and the invention of T.V. prompted marketing to turn from promoting and selling products - to lifestyles, ideas, symbols and icons.
- Nike says "just do it", selling sports, selling victory.
- IBM went from selling to computers to ‘Selling Solutions'
- APPLE did the same - selling instead the idea to 'Think Different'
Look around and you'll find an endless supply of further examples. Usually we don't even recognize it but brands represent who we are and what we expect. We buy clothes, cars, foods, and shoes all because we feel their brand represents who we are.
Celebrities, like sports figures, are effectively used to promote these brands today.
Now that I've got you pondering or cursing the materialistic fiends we all are - let's bring this back to basketball.
LEBRON JAMES IS SMARTER THAN YOU THINK
Do you remember way back when LeBron came into the league and stated that he wanted to be the first athlete-billionaire?
If you are the crowd I'm addressing this probably prompted the early seeds of your hatred and disgust that drives you to call him ‘egotistical', ‘selfish', and ‘narcissistic'. If it's something else that drives you to call his goals of riches deplorable - you're probably just a capitalist hater and outraged that sports figures, movie stars, musicians can make millions of dollars while you as a school teacher or bus driver make dirt. Cry me a river. Or move to Cuba. You and I aren't going to change anything so join the club and exploit the American Dream or live in envy and disgust for the rest of your life.
A CNNMoney article written back when the statement was made reads,
I'm sure everyone who talks about sports being too much about money can point to James' billion-dollar target as Exhibit A of that concern. But frankly that's more about the critics' envy than anything else.
No one objects when NBA owners use their investments to become rich at a young age, as Mavericks' owner Mark Cuban or Microsoft co-founder and Portland Trail Blazers owner Paul Allen did. And I doubt there was much criticism when Ty Cobb used a savvy investment in Coke early in the 20th century to become very rich after his playing days.
The fact that James is looking to follow the same course to success while he works to make money for his team, his league and his sponsors shows that he's a pretty smart 22-year old, someone to be admired, not scorned.
Do you remember what LeBron did to act on his statement? Yeah that's right - he fired his agent and hired all of his high school buddies to run his business operations. Stupid move right? Wrong. James is smarter than you think. Let me direct you to an article written in Fortune Magazine back then in praise of LeBron's financial maturity. They're no slackers when it comes to $ and cents.
I'll clip the meaty portions for your convenience.
BFF FOR CEO
"Most superstar athletes conduct their off-the-court business like this: They hire an agent who secures endorsement deals. The athlete shows up at the appointed time and collects checks and usually agrees to a number of "service days," occasions when he will be present for various PR and marketing events.
James began his pro career this way, but in May 2005 - toward the end of his second year in the NBA - he decided to make a change. He fired his agent, Aaron Goodwin, and established his own firm to handle all aspects of his business ventures. He put Carter, 25 - another Akron native, who had worked for Nike - in charge."
. . .
"As Carter recalls it, he was home in Ohio in May 2005 and visiting LeBron at his house. "He said, 'Mav, you know, my agent and I are just not seeing eye to eye right now. It's not what I want to do. I'm older now, I'm 20 years old, I'll be 21 in December, and I want to kind of do things differently than anyone has ever done them before. Of course, I grew up watching Michael and the way he did it, and he set the roadmap. I want to run my own business. I want to be my own business.'"
So in 2006, James founded LRMR Marketing, so named for the initials of the four buddies: Lebron, Randy Mims, Maverick Carter, and Richard Paul. The only real core competency James's brain trust possessed was loyalty. (In fact, it was James's former agent, Goodwin, who brokered some of James's bigger paydays to date - like his first Cavalier contract, a three-year, $14.5 million deal. He also negotiated the Nike and Coke (Charts, Fortune 500) endorsement contracts.)
Aside from working with his friends, there is additional upside to how James has structured his business. To reduce his tax liability, he formed King James Inc., a holding company, to contract with endorsement partners.
"Some agents I talk with are oblivious to the tax disadvantages of having the player personally contract for the endorsement," says Fred Nance, James's longtime attorney.
The NBA showed concern in LeBron's choice to hire his BFFs -
"I first met Maverick after I read that LeBron had fired his agent," says Adam Silver, the deputy commissioner of the NBA. "I was nervous that LeBron was going to be represented by a group of his childhood friends. But before I had a chance to call Maverick, he called me. Shortly into our first meeting I had a sense of relief that LeBron was in good hands."
LEBRON GETS HIS FINACIAL FIX FROM THE BUFFETT
Continuing on about LeBron's tactical decision to hire his buddies and make his own successful marketing company the article reads,
"The arrangement has worked, not least because LRMR has associated itself with top-shelf accountants and lawyers, not to mention Warren Buffett, who dispenses financial advice when asked. "If LeBron were an IPO, I'd buy it," he says.
. . .
"I bought them some milk shakes and hamburgers, and we had a good time," Buffett says. "I was amazed at how mature he was, not just physically but in financial matters. At 21, I wasn't remotely as mature as LeBron. Maybe at 51 I wasn't as mature as him."
He says he's advised James and Carter on "personal financial matters" and speaks to them occasionally on the phone. "Neither of them needs my help, but I'm available if they need me," he says.
I don't want to insult your intelligence - but a nobody schmuck like me shouldn't have to explain why LeBron consulting Warren Buffett can only imply some form of advanced intelligence on the part of the King. Does Buffett answer your calls and tell you how to get the most bang for your buck?
THE LEBRON BRAND
LeBron has been building his own brand ever since he decided to be his own business owner.
But what idea does the LeBron James brand promote? BASKETBALL. The Fortune Magazine article I've been shamelessly copying and pasting (thank you Tim Arango) ends identifying this point - his product is his skill set and the ultimate success of his quest for a billion rides on his ability to continue to play at freakish levels and win championships.
Well, he's got the first part right - but the championships haven't come to fruition, like everyone points out. But that doesn't mean he stops promoting his brand and furthering his efforts to grow his company.
The best way to push a brand besides winning a championship is through marketing strategies. King James is the King of marketing. The mere fact that we have been talking about the "Summer of 2010" since 2008 is a clear indicator of LRMR's marketing competence. He's pursuing international ventures, he's constantly making investments, he's doing all kinds of things to put LEBRON JAMES in lights - just as Nike, Coca Cola, Budweiser, Apple, Microsoft and any other brand does.
More recently we've been flooded with LeBron this and LeBron that. It's by design. Smart design. As this article on econsultancy.com (a digital marketing company) points out - LeBron James realizes that digital media is the way to go. He just joined Twitter - He's launching a new website in the ensuing days - he's televising his "Decision" .... These are all smart marketing ploys to promote the LeBron James brand.
You want to boycott the show? Go ahead. You will be the minority. The world - minus you will be watching. Heck as mentioned in posts earlier - they're even talking about LeBron on all the retarded political news channels like MSNBC and FOXNEWS.
HAM BY NATURE
"But Eutychus - look at Dirk, Durant, and Kobe, they're superstars and they just quietly accepted extensions and faded into the night! LeBron is a Joke!"
No - LeBron is a Ham. THIS IS WHO HE IS FOLKS. He has turned the Quickens Loans Arena into a nightly production with music - lights - shows - thunderous announcements, it's big-time. He puts on elaborate pre-game high-fiving routines and often dances while on the bench. He's done numerous commercials and whatnot where his acting/humor is center stage. The guy is a Ham. He loves to perform and he is VERY GOOD AT IT.
If you asked me - I would say that LeBron is doing all the right things, he is growing his business and promoting his brand by using his own personal strengths. He makes a living doing what he loves to do. Can you say you do the same? (Seth you can't answer)
As a basketball fan, LeBron's decision is a big deal - it changes the complexion and future of the league.
As a Suns fan, I could care less where he ends up - though if he goes to Miami I do think it'll be kind of unfair for the rest of the league and not so much fun to watch that group of freaks destroy teams.
We'll all know in a matter of hours and this fan-post will be meaningless. LeBron is not my favorite player. But reading everyone's vitriol and hatred towards him because of free-agency just blows my mind. I think he deserves more respect than that.
******* NOTE ************
Just Read this