LeBron-Onomics : From King James to Emperor James
Prof. Clifford Benton | 6/3/2010, 12:22 p.m.
Photo Courtesy of Black Athlete Sports Network
The tables haven't just turned, they've toppled over. Players have more juice than owners. We're not talking about the script being flipped; we're talking about a whole new movie -- IMAX.
ESPN radio can't get enough of Bron-Bron; they've devoted several hours of daily programming to "The LeBron Watch." Larry King is on the bandwagon. Business analysts are developing intricate economic metrics to gauge the "LeBron Cometh to Your Town" effect.
Oh yeah, by the way -- there is an N.B.A. Finals. And we're not talking Phoenix vs. Orlando; this is Boston vs. L.A. There's no better "team" match up. But it's a backup singer, a substitute teacher, a spare tire. "And the winner for best supporting actor is..."
No athlete, not Jordan, not Woods, (well, Tyson had a shot), not Kobe, not Manning, not Federer, not Mayweather, not Serena, not anybody, and not nobody can cause economic mayhem like LeBron. That's why we call it -- LEBRON-ONOMICS.
A recent article reported that LeBron James would bring New York City $58 million if the Knicks win the championship. Another report said the Cleveland Cavaliers franchise would be worth $100 million dollars less if LeBron left.
The Windy Windy (not Windy City, a.k.a. Chicago) would get a -- check it -- $2 billion dollar boost to their economy according to some analysts.
LeBron said Cleveland has the edge. Code for, "He's outta there." If he's going to stay in Cleveland, than this a cruel ploy -- a very cruel ploy. You don't "make 'em sweat" -- not like that, not if you like them. Kobe signed a three-year extension which expires in the 2012-13 season for about $90 million.
No Right Guard deodorant with the "Blocker Protection" (shout out to Terry Crews) needed for Dr. Buss (Laker's owner). This isn't baseball where there's no cap on salaries. The max has been pre-determined. So, this posturing by LeBron is not about leveraging his Cleveland situation.
He couldn't possibly get any more leverage. In the leverage category the score is: LeBron 100 - The Cavaliers 0. It's a shutout. They need him; he doesn't need them. That's leverage defined. That's leverage incarnate.
David Stern claimed (in an interview with Colin Cowherd of ESPN radio) that there is no "summit." Stern said that he was told this by the players' agents. I guess the agents have no reason to lie (yeah right). In an age where we "over communicate" and even our pets have cell phones, you don't think these players are talking?
LeBron doesn't want to be like Mike -- he wants to be like BILL. BILL Russell. And BILL Gates. This is the new athlete. The one that is as concerned with his investment portfolio as he is with his stat line and championships.
This is way beyond branding. This is not about being national, international, or global. This new age of athlete wants to be "Inter-galactic." They want to be planets. We're talking about a new economic model for athletes. The one where the city benefits. We're talking about athlete as empire.
We're talking 'bout: LEBRON-ONOMICS.
Prof. Clifford Benton is a business and educational consultant for BASN.