The King is finally free to leave his throne. So where will he go next?
Rumor has it that the Knicks are the frontrunners for the most coveted free agent in the history of modern sport. Unfortunately, if Lebron chooses to sign with New York, it could be the worst business decision of his career.
Lebron James has stated that it is his goal to be the first billionaire athlete. For many people, that was enough to label New York City as a natural fit for the King. New York City is the media capital of the world, and it is the largest media market in the United States. It would seem ideal for James to take his show to Broadway.
However, as American sports fans and natural nationalists, we forget that there is one place that trumps the marketing potential of every NBA market combined – that place is China.
I’m not suggesting that James sign with the Shanghai Sharks, but he should definitely make his free agency decision with the world’s most populated country in mind.
There are more basketball players in China than there are total people in the US. If worldwide fame and fortune is what you want, you start with the Chinese.
So what is it that the Chinese like? Well, this may sound old fashion but…they like winners. Kobe Bryant is the most famous active basketball player in China. Why? He has more championship rings than any other superstar. In China, Michael Jordan is as popular as Michael Jackson. MJ has six rings. Jordan and Nike owner Phil Knight had this in mind when they created Jordan’s “Six Rings” sneaker. The Chinese don’t fall in love with glitz, glamour, persona, or swag. They simply idolize champions.
At the 2008 Summer Olympics, Knight chose Kobe Bryant to be the face of the new Nike HyperDunk sneaker instead of James. The decision was made for the simple fact that Kobe is more recognizable than James on a global scale. While Lebron may be the best player on earth, he is by no means the most recognizable brand name.
If Lebron truly wants to become the global icon that he has said he wishes to be, he should stay away from the New York Knicks, and sign with the team that gives him the best opportunity to win multiple championships. James must understand that he doesn’t need New York. New York needs him, and they need him desperately.
Which leads one to think this – Why would King James crown himself King of New York when he could be King of the World?
Michael Jordan once said that he never talked about politics because “Republicans wear sneakers too.” It may be wise for Lebron to realize that he is trying to appeal to the wrong audience. There are 300 million people in China that also “wear sneakers too”.
written by Chris Godfrey