Branding the World of Sports

What’s wrong with this picture? LeBron

Posted by ZA on July 9, 2010

Why is LeBron James the only one in the photo who isn’t smiling? I know that image has been photoshopped, but its ironic that they pictured the smiling Dwayne Wade and grinning Chris Bosh next to a sullen looking LeBron because I think King James really is unhappy.  I think this entire free agency process, James decision to leave Cleveland and now the backlash are weighing heavily on LeBron’s shoulders.

I think LeBron is probably second guessing a lot of the decisions he’s made lately.  James isn’t going to change his mind on playing in Miami, but I wouldn’t be surprised if he would like a mulligan.  LeBron clearly never expected this decision would make him a villain, something that I think is eating away at LeBron inside.  He was clearly anxious last night at having to deliver such a tough message (bye bye Cleveland) on national television, but I expected King James to lighten up after announcing his decision.  James never did lighten up and instead seemed distracted and upset.  There was a lot going on, but I think LeBron realized for the first time yesterday that this transition is going to change who the public’s opinion of him.  He’s always been Lovable LeBron and now he’s the guy that NBA fans are going to root against.  And he can’t even “go home” because he’s now public enemy #1 in Ohio.

What should LeBron have done?
* Stayed in Cleveland to try to win a Championship.  Or go to New York City and revive that franchise by winning a Championship.  I thought the competitor in James would drive him to beat guys like DWade and Bosh, not team up with them.

* Met with the Cleveland ownership face-to-face to thank them and tell them that he was leaving.  I would hope that if James didn’t have sense to do that, at least one of his well paid agents would have made sure that happened.  My opinion of Maverick Carter could not be lower after watching how he’s handled the last few weeks of LeBron’s free agency circus.

* Not schedule a one-hour television special to announce his decision to the world.  There is a reason PR people exist in this world and this was the perfect time to use one.  Don’t play the “I’m bigger than everyone else” game by going on live TV to tell them where you are going to make your next $100 million.  Write a $1 million to charity (anonymously), met with Cleveland ownership, call other teams to deliver the news, turn over a statement to a publicity to release and then hop on your private jet for a vacation.

I think much of this will blow over in a few weeks and LeBron will be happy with his decision.  And I do think that James and company will win rings in Miami, but I don’t think this trio will last long-term in Miami.  James is 25 & DWade is 28; in 3-4 years the Miami Heat might have to make a decision who they want to resign.  I think they’ll choose LeBron due to age which will cause a rift that sends Wade packing for Chicago (his hometown, where he is still welcome).  LeBron might idle in Miami a couple of more seasons, but then eventually I think LeBron finishes his career in New York (Knicks or Brooklyn Nets).

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