On July 8, 2010, LeBron James announced a decision – a decision to leave the Cleveland Cavaliers as a free agent and join the Miami Heat for the next six seasons. Lebron has never made it a secret that he wants to win and win badly. Aren’t we all granted the freedom of choice to…
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Recently, when we talked to you how we can improve Sports Networker, a lot of you gave us (essentially) one word: more!
Now, we have been bringing you posts Monday through Friday, give or take a sick day ever since our inception. This is about to change.
Welcome to The Overtime Post, where each weekend I will give you a casual highlight of our week’s posts, along with some of the hottest news in social media and sports business. The posts will be more fun and relaxed, as most of us have traded in our weekday suits for sports jerseys and foam fingers anyway.
Think of it as a weekly Sportscenter – something you can read between downs or during timeouts. I know a lot of you have a lot of trick-or-treating to do, so without further ado, this week’s posts:
Before you read further, watch Nike’s latest commercial, “Rise,” featuring LeBron James.
Since most of you already know the story, I’ll make this as quick as I can. Feel free to skip through if you know the background. The last four or five months have been interesting for the King. After seven years in Cleveland and no championship rings, LeBron James decided it was time to leave.
In a prime time ESPN event called The Decision, LeBron announced to the world that he would be “taking [his] talents to South Beach” to play for the Miami Heat. Cavs fans were furious, their hometown hero (LBJ is from Akron, Ohio) was leaving them, having never delivered the championship he promised.
Basketball fans from all over were upset as well, mainly with how LeBron decided to handle the announcement. Even though the money raised during the show was then donated to the Boys & Girls Club of America, most thought it was a pretentious and selfish way to announce his decision.
Throughout the offseason, LeBron has come under a lot of fire. He’s been called out for quitting on his team in the playoffs, for leaving Cleveland, for The Decision. Dan Gilbert, the Cavs’ owner, publicized a nasty letter about LeBron.
Recently, LBJ came out and said he thought that all of the backlash from The Decision was partially a race issue, and that if he were of a different skin color, none of this would have been a big deal. Also, in the past few weeks, LeBron has retweeted several hateful and derogatory tweets, examples of messages he says he receives every day.
In the end, LeBron’s image has changed from a beloved NBA superstar, a hometown hero, and possibly the one-day greatest basketball player of all time to the biggest villain in the league (yes, above Kobe, he’s going to get booed everywhere he goes), a selfish superstar who betrayed his city for more money (smaller contract, bigger endorsements), more fame, and an easier championship ring.
NBA All-Star Chris Bosh of the Miami Heat recently made headlines being quoted for saying that loyalty has no place in free agency. Bosh mentions that at a store, you’d go to a store that has the cheaper price for your item, so how is basketball any different? You go where it makes sense for you.
I admit I was a bit shocked by Bosh’s comments because I am a fan of Chris Bosh and I respect everything he does on and off the court. While his new teammate LeBron James was busy rubbing it in Cleveland’s face, Bosh chose the high road and thanked all his Toronto fans for his time there. However, in this case – I have to disagree with Bosh. Just because sports are a business does not mean loyalty should be “an added bonus” as he puts it.
I just shook my head and mentally shook LeBron James by the collar when I read his tweet directed at critics, yesterday: “Don’t think for one min(ute) that I haven’t been taking mental notes of everyone taking shots at me this summer. And I mean everyone!”
(For the record, I wouldn’t lay a hand on a man three-times my size, especially if I was coaching him.)
Ok, so I guess I won’t be invited to his South Beach Christmas Bash. Oh, well….
Missed drinks donning umbrellas with The Decided aside, James is still a young player in the NBA. He has no championship rings and he still has lots of endorsements to sign before he comes close to Michael Jordan, the star basketball player he has been most compared. James’ endorsements may even trail Tiger Woods’.
The Elliptical For The Rich, Tai Chi For The Poor
* Every year, the Sporting Goods Manufacturers Association releases its state of sports participation in America study. The 64-page document is filled with interesting tidbits that will make you smarter at the office water cooler.
* Of all the fitness machines, the elliptical motion trainer has the highest percentage of participants whose annual household income exceeds $100,000 a year. Forty percent of those who use the elliptical make over $100,000.
Internal Watchdog Criticizes ESPN for Ethical Missteps on LeBron James Coverage
* ESPN’s internal journalism watchdog sharply criticized the cable-sports network for what he said were ethical missteps in its recent broadcast of a TV program devoted to basketball star LeBron James.
* The Walt Disney Co. network two weeks ago aired a one-hour special about James, who used the program to announce that he signed with a new team, the Miami Heat. In an unusual arrangement, James’s sports-marketing company suggested the program to ESPN and brokered an arrangement whereby the show’s advertisers donated money to the Boys & Girls Clubs of America, a charity James supports.
The Miami Heat were not the only ones who came out big winners during the LeBron sweepstakes, as the Boys and Girls Club of America also did an excellent job of increasing their brand awareness during “The Decision.”
I swore to myself before the start of the NBA free-agency period that I wouldn’t write about LeBron James. Sports media are putting in enough hours of coverage about his team status, for all of us.
I realized, however, that I work in and write about sports publicity and PR, and since James announced he would share his intentions of what team he’ll join for the next few years in an hour-long broadcast on ESPN, his story became a good PR/bad PR story.
Over the past year, Twitter has shown us its incredible power when it comes to talking about and sharing “breaking news” and current events (not just in sports). For example, last year’s Iranian presidential elections completely dominated Twitter for a number of weeks, and became the medium for finding out what was happening in the Middle East. Other major news events, like the Hudson River plane crash and Michael Jackson’s death, have proven the same.
July 1 marked the start of one of the biggest summers in the history of the National Basketball Association. A number of the league’s premier players, including LeBron James, Chris Bosh, and Dwayne Wade, became free agents. 2010 NBA free agency has been quite an experience, and Twitter has truly given fans an insight into free agency unlike we’ve ever had before. Like the events mentioned previously, Twitter has completely altered who controls the messaging and the way we gather information.
Just before July 1, the Nets began to unveil a 225 foot x 95 foot painted sign on the side of a building at 34th Street & 8th Avenue in midtown Manhattan. The wall features prominent images of the Nets’ new owner, 6’8″ Russian billionaire Mikhail Prokhorov, and part owner & hip-hop legend, Jay-Z. Above their faces is the phrase, “The Blueprint for Greatness.” The Nets feel strongly about the direction their team is heading, and the wall is a tribute to the positive growth this organization continues to make.
The wall is part of an aggressive marketing campaign (along with several major digital and print advertisements), placed within walking distance of New York Penn Station, a major hub for the Nets moving forward. They will move to Newark for the next two seasons, at least, and then permanently to Brooklyn. Many, many Nets fans will pass through Penn Station in the years to come.
Social media has opened up the doors for fans to have a voice like never before, this is something which in my experience scares some teams but also offers great opportunity. The upcoming free agency, or Decision 2010 as the NBA have branded it, has lead to many fan led campaigns telling stars like LeBron…
It’s no surprise that sports teams all over the world are realizing the power of 140 characters or less. Twitter allows organizations to keep their fan base updated on events, stories, and up to the minute scoring, which has resulted in a growth of the number of followers for certain teams. Teams in major sports markets…