I think I woke up in the 1950s this morning.
LeBron James is using his Twitter account to point you at his static web site that indicates his regalness will announce his free agency signing decision on television. Sponsorship dollars for that hour long blathering will be donated to the Boys and Girls Clubs.
This is 1950s television all over again. He’s using a broadcast medium,that most people who are working won’t be able to watch to announce a decision? After he’s built a quarter million followers on Twitter in just one day? This just smacks of being all about LeBron, his entourage and his image. It’s so anti-Twitter, anti-social media, and just anti-21st century that LeBron should be kicked off of Twitter. He needs to have sponsorship money when he’s looking at $20M or more a year? I’m going to puke. Unfollow wisely.
Here’s how I’d do this: Generate Twitter followers. Slowly disclose pieces of a nice, “new town” public relations scheme, like donating a large sum to a local boys/girls charity once he announces the city of his final destination. Use the Twitter discussion to get a sense of what people think is important. Be accessible to the fans, both in Cleveland and in any future city that’s not Cleveland. Put details of the grand plans on the web site, ensuring that it gets readers, followers and an active set of comment threads. Announce the decision on both the website and Twitter, and if you insist on sponsorship, sell a banner for the hour around the decision time. But asking a corporate partner to pony up in addition to the rather large sums this contract will include is just stupid. Yes, ESPN will love the exclusivity and viewership, but is this about ESPN or LeBron?
If this is how LeBron handles the media, I give him a New York minute if he ends up playing in the Garden.
Update 9:00 PM EDT: OK, so the LeBron Hour will be during prime time, a mere 24 hours hence, and not during work hours. Foolish me; how could I have thought for even a nanosecond that the NBA event of the century would happen when the viewer potential was not maximized? Puh-leeze.
It’s times like these when I think back to a story related to me by a relative of George Yardley: Yardley was the first player to score 2,000 points in a season, is in the Basketball Hall of Fame, and was featured (card #2) in the first Topps release of basketball cards in 1957-58. He retired from basketball to run his family business, because he was only making $25,000 playing hoops. Not a game, not a quarter, not a point — a year. He was a humble guy, as were the guys who played with him. You think he called for a Kraft-sponsored television hour to announce his retirement? He went with dignity, the way he and his peers played the game off an on the court.
Today’s NBA players should read some league history and then truly understand what it means to “respect the game.”