In an ESPN prime-time presentation, King James announced that he would be joining the Miami Heat, alongside Dwyane Wade and Chris Bosh – an announcement that sparked echoes of sharp disappointment from Cleveland and resounding cheers from South Beach.
Whatever the dispositions of the third parties, they are irrelevant. James insisted that his decision is purely a business one and he must do what’s in his best interests. He listened to pitches from 6 teams, weighed his options and courageously left the nest to finalize his choice of Miami. A careful strategy that reveals James’ performance on the court and his business savvy are of high caliber.
The story of James’ pending free agency infiltrated the media. It headlined on news outlets that don’t specialize in sports coverage – despite that, they took the most relevant angle to add their voice to the sensationalized tale of the Ohioan. ESPN, who hosted the primetime showcase of James’ revelation, referred to the 9 o’clock prime-time airing as “The Decision” and even had a visible countdown on their broadcast in the hours leading up to it.
LeBron James coverage became so extensive that the craze marched onto the web and trended across the digital media landscape. To capitalize on the high level of engagement, James put on his public relations hat and joined Twitter, where he again made history. His Twitter handle, @KingJames accrued over 150,000 followers in 7 hours, setting a record. Both on and offline, the coverage of James was reminiscent of a nation awaiting a presidential election outcome, rather than a free agent’s franchise choice.
While the media defined the preceding days of the decision, James’ announcement that he’d join the Miami Heat will be footnoted as a moment that changed sports team history. After weeks of analysis involving salary, branding, locale market value and championship potential data, James concluded that winning was paramount on his list.
Never has a high-profile player sacrificed a max-contract (Miami didn’t necessarily offer the most lucrative deal) for the sake of championship dreams. Sacrificing a max contract hardly puts James’ finances in peril. In Miami, he will save approximately $1.01 million in state income taxes next year. The other prospective cities had higher tax rates, according to The Wall Street Journal. His move to the South is not only a story of what the city can do for him but what he can do for the city as well.
James is likely to have Miami’s economy on the upswing, with increased ticket sales, merchandise sales, and local marketing initiatives. Both franchise holding and American Airlines Arena’s stock prices will peak because James can move markets, as demonstrated in New York. Shares of Madison Square Garden Inc, which owns and operate the Knicks, saw its busiest trading day when it was strongly suspected that James would be heading to New York.
In Miami, the two-time MVP will reportedly sign a six-year contract worth $110.1 million. Other capital gains and brand enhancement opportunities will be expressed in his multi-million dollar endorsement portfolio.
What can be taken from the James decision is that one should never deny himself of an opportunity to strengthen his legacy in order to please others - a lesson that is applicable on and off the court.
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