LeBron James: Self-Centered or PR Genius?

Posted: October 24, 2011 in Uncategorized

Excuse me for my consistent reference to the past, but I feel an obligation to address specific situations which has left us all asking “why?”  Can you remember where you were the day the infamous hoop star announced on national television that he was “taking his talents to South Beach?” On July 8th, 2010 sports fans around the world (myself included) gathered around the television anticipating the future of King James himself.  “The Decision” aired live on ESPN as a 60 minute special, revealing the team LeBron James would join for the upcoming NBA season.  In case you’re wondering who the hell LeBron James is, let’s just say he’s the greatest talent the NBA has ever seen.

James, a Cleveland native, spent his first seven seasons with the Cleveland Cavaliers until the star became a free agent in 2010.  James was the most sought out free agent in NBA history and whichever team was fortunate enough to acquire the hoop star would see an instant gain in revenue.  Finally, in the last segment of the 60 minute special, King James stated, “I’ve decided to take my talents to South Beach and join the Miami Heat.”  Little did LeBron know those exact words would ignite a frenzy of controversy which would never be forgotten.

When LeBron James was playing for the Cleveland Cavaliers he was loved by many and hated by few.  However, after LeBron James announced his future on “The Decision,” he was forced to take on his new role as a villain.  James was criticized for betraying the Cavaliers organization and for quitting on his home town.  Not only were Cavs fans upset with LeBron’s choice to leave the organization, they were offended with how he went about doing so.

"The Big Three" are the most talked about trio in the NBA. Photo credit to Xynn Tii Imagery.

“The Decision” changed the public’s perception of James labeling him as self-centered and egotistical, traits an athlete never wants to be associated with.  Despite the tremendous amount of criticism, some say that James is a public relations genius. (“The Decision” Aftermath)  Nearly 10 million viewers tuned into the King James national broadcast, which donated all advertising revenue to the Boys and Girls Club of America.  Okay, so maybe his heart was in the right place?  Let’s not go that far.

LeBron instigated a marketing dynasty by creating a tremendous amount of hype surrounding the Miami Heat and his future teammates.  Is it possible that James was advised by his management team to consider an organization in a city that presented the best opportunity for him to market his brand?  Oh, it’s more than likely.

Before signing with the Heat, it was speculated that LeBron would only consider the New York Knicks and the Miami Heat because the two were in cities that presented the highest market value.  Sure, it would have been great for his image and PR had LeBron James stayed in his hometown, but clearly James had something different in mind.  “The Decision” may have had good intentions, but instead was one of the biggest PR mistakes in the history of professional sports.  Now, LeBron James must either acknowledge his role as the new villain of the NBA, or hire a new management team to clean up the mess he got himself into.  Either way, we’re all anticipating his next big decision.

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