There are some lessons to learn from LeBron James return to the Cleveland Cavaliers. His decision was more than just basketball related, it was a great business move.
What possibly could any professional athlete do that has amassed $450 million in a short 11 years? He leaves the bright lights and flashy lifestyle to return to his humble beginnings in Northeast Ohio. For Akron native LeBron James, the decision to return to home was based on giving back to the community that raised him. He will be able to do that in more ways than one.
LBJ’s decision to take his talents to South Beach was a business move. The pressure to win came from more than just the public. His biggest sponsor (Nike) wanted him to win it all as bad as he did. The promotion of King James was getting harder the longer it took for him to reign King in Cleveland. So, he went to team that was ready to win now.
Off the court, the city of Cleveland has not been the same financially since James left in 2010. Sure ticket prices dropped to a more affordable level, but restaurants and bars in the area felt the loss in their cash drawer. Staff was cut back in some cases causing loyal LeBron supporters to lose their jobs. As James put it in is essay announcing his return, “my relationship with Northeast Ohio is bigger than basketball. I didn’t realize that four years ago. I do now.”
Just the speculation of his possible return generated a million dollars of ticket revenue on Wednesday. On his website you can now purchase an “I Promise” bracelet in Cavs colors to support his foundation for Akron third graders. His goal, as stated in his essay, is to motivate them to go to college and come back to start businesses in the area also. Ticket sellers across Ohio are salivating over the forseeable high demand for Cavs tickets. Restaurants and bars are going to start to see downtown jump like it did when James was there before.
The move also keeps LeBron closer to his LRMR agency, which now represents the only two superstar athletes in Cleveland, Browns rookie QB Johnny Manziel and himself. There is no doubt that LRMR will be looking to guide the marketing of the Cavs’ young talents like Kyrie Irving and Andrew Wiggins. He is also looking to do more investing in the Northeast Ohio landscape in an effort to lead by example for other Akron natives to do the same. What LeBron did today was invest in Ohio.
The manner in which he announced his decision in 2014 was more business-like than in 2010. What other team could he go to that would not give the public more ammunition to hate him other than Cleveland? The essay made fans of those people that burned his jersey in anger and he will be rewarded with a King’s ransom.