Judging from the initial reaction, it seems as though the branding of Lebron was a major failure. From quickly talking to a few friends in the New York and Chicago areas, I learned that people who thought they had a chance to make Lebron one of their hometown heroes now hate him. One can only imagine what a Clevelander thinks (ESPN is now showing me footage of people in Cleveland BURNING their Lebron jerseys…good luck selling Lebron jerseys in Cleveland!).
If someone wants to monetize on their position as a budding national hero, does it make sense to build up the hopes of the citizens and basketball fans in four separate geographical regions and then collectively crush them all at once? Maybe I’m a little more exposed to New York than other areas (well not maybe, I am), but it clearly seems like people are pissed off. These are people who no doubt would have loved Lebron had he come to the Knicks, but now they have already expressed their intent to boo and heckle him once he sets foot on the Garden floor. Did the Lebron marketers not know that Knicks fans HATE the Miami Heat? Good luck selling Lebron jerseys in New York now!
Maybe it’s just me, but it seems like a more forthright and honest approach to free agency would have made this process much smoother and better for everyone involved. Rather than building it up into a marketable event, why not openly discuss the progress of conversations with teams while letting the rumor mill run its naturally frantic course? When you’re that awesome at basketball, let your awesomeness market itself. Publicity stunts only generate animosity in people who never would have had reason to be angry in the first place. Just my two cents.
Disclosure: I am a passive Nets fan who predominantly dislikes the Knicks.