In case you haven’t heard, one of the best basketball players on the globe had a one hour special to announce his free agency decision in the summer of 2010. LeBron James went on ESPN on July 8th to tell the basketball world he was taking his talents to south beach to join the Miami Heat. “The Decision” as it became know, brought LeBron quite a bit of hate not only from fans from Cleveland (the team he was previously on) but from fans all around the league and even some players.
The main reason for this is because he was viewed as selfish and egotistical in making a one hour special just to tell people where he was going to play basketball next season. Most people see the surface of the situation but don’t take into account everything that went on outside the publics focus. Even events like this have a lot going on in the background that the sports industry should take a look at.
People seem to over look the fact that it wasn’t LeBron’s idea to have the special, he just went along with it.
Like every other superstar athlete or celebrity, LeBron has a managing team that makes most if not all of his media related decisions or appearances. He has a publicist, an agent, a stylist and a business manager. This business managers name is Maverick Cater and he is the one who released this statement to ESPN, “Due to the unprecedented attention and interest surrounding LeBron’s decision, we have decided to make this announcement on national television”.
LeBron saw this as an opportunity to raise money for the Boys ; Girls Club of America, a foundation he has been very publicly supportive of.
His marketing team saw this as an opportunity to sell LeBron “The Icon” because popularity for him meant “cha-ching” for them. ESPN went along with it because LeBron is a huge star and they were interested in boosting ratings. “The Decision”, ratings wise was a huge success for ESPN. According to preliminary number from Nielsen co, in the nations 56 biggest television markets, about 8 million homes turned on the program. It was estimated that 12-14 million people were watching when LeBron made his infamous choice. That is a record for a non-sporting event.
The popularity of the interview brought a revamped fan base for the NBA. Fans tuned in to see how he would fair with his new team, some wishing him success but most rooting for him to fail. Above all else people watched to see the show put on by the latest NBA team to acquire 3 star athletes. One of the statutes’ LeBron had when agreeing to the televised interview was that he would be allowed to sell the advertising and the profits would go the Boys ; Girls Club of America. The program drew big ticket companies like McDonalds, The University of Phoenix, Bing and Vitamin Water for sponsorships.
Together they raised over 3 million dollars. LeBron grew up in the inner city and was from a very poor family. He knows first hand what it’s like to be a kid that doesn’t have access to opportunities for recreation. The money was divided between fifty nine Boys and Girls clubs across the country. $60,000 went to a club just outside of Cleveland to repair a leaky roof, refurbish a dingy gymnasium and a new playground. Another club in the area received $70,000 which was used to install a new gym floor and purchase bleachers and twenty new computers.
LeBron might have pist off a few of his older fans but he defiantly gained supports from the kids. Some of the uproar after “The Decision” has to be created to the mismanagement of the broadcasting. Most people saw problems with the fact that the special was an hour long for a decision that should take about two seconds to say on TV. ESPN went along with it however, and promised the viewers would know his decision within fifteen minutes of the start of the broadcast. In reality the words “Miami Heat” didn’t leave his mouth until thirty minutes into it.
If that wasn’t enough to agitate the audience, the first half hour of the show was made up of Jim Gray, the interviewer, asking more than a dozen soft ball questions that were more like watching chitchat than compelling television. Combine the agitating half hour wait with the disappointment of LeBron’s perceived “easy way out” decision is enough to have most fans changing the channel in frustration immediately hearing the verdict. From LeBron’s point of view, besides the back lash from his televised free agent decision, he made the best carrier choice.
Cleveland had showed repeatedly that they weren’t capable of surrounding him with enough talent to win a championship. Why not sign with a clearly better team that happened to have your best friend in the league on it in Dwayne Wade. He did have to take a 30 million dollar pay cut to join The Heat but hey, what’s 30 million to LeBron James. As we know now, in the end it worked out for the better. Dwyer, Kelly. “Lebron’s Decision was awful but his carities are thankful. ” Yahoo Sports. Yahoo, 27 Apr 2011. Web. 6 Mar 2013. ;http://sports. yahoo. com/nba/blog/ball_dont_lie/post/lebrons-decision-was-awful-but-his-charities-are-thankful? rn=nba,wp2143;. Gregory, Sean. “The LeBron James Hour: Is This Prime-Time Overkill? Read more: http://www. time. com/time/nation/article/0,8599,2002477,00. html Flint, Joe. “ESPN’s ‘The Decision’ scores but leaves questions in its aftermath. ” Los Angeles Times. LA Times, 09 Jul 2010. Web. 6 Mar 2013. <http://latimesblogs. latimes. com/entertainmentnewsbuzz/2010/07/espns-the-decision-scores-but-leaves-questions-in-its-aftermath. html>. Broussard, Chris. “LeBron’s announcement coming soon. ” ESPN NBA. ESPN, 08 Jul 2010. Web. 6 Mar 2013. <http://sports. espn. go. com/nba/news/story? id=5360533>.