LeBron James: The Royal Brand of B-Ball

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Plenty of little boys love to play basketball.  But there are only a select few who rise through the ranks, quickly outshining their peers to become celebrities in the game.  Nonetheless, such was the case for LeBron James, one of the NBA’s most prolific players and marketable brands.

While many NBA basketball players are able to boast modest beginnings, James became renowned for his attempts to launch his professional career in basketball before he could even make it to senior prom.  In fact, most of LeBron’s hard work occurred while he was still in high school.   Indeed, the spitfire dubbed “Mr. Basketball” sparked national attention with his impressive skill at such a young age.  Being featured on the cover of Sports Illustrated makes it a bit difficult to finish out your teenage years in relative peace.

By the time James joined the Cleveland Cavaliers, his reputation included a bit more than just his impressive B-ball skills; the sponsors were paying close attention.  His pre-game chalk-throwing became such a national sensation that it was infused into his commercial shtick.  It doesn’t take much for a cute trend to catch on; Nike had great fun squeezing James’ ritual into one of its “Just Do It” ad campaigns.   But basketball and shoe contracts go hand in hand.   LeBron isn’t the first to usher this trend; with six different shoe styles under his belt, rest assured that Nike is smiling on James’ star status.  Clearly, it’s LeBron James’ outspoken nature that has made him so easily “brandable”; you know that you’re really hot once you’ve been “Muppetized” (as was James in one of Nike’s innovative mock TV show commercials.)

Coca-Cola was not to be left out.  Neither was Bubblelicious chewing gum, or State Farm…or McDonald’s.  LeBron James’ connection to these incredibly accessible brands served to bridge the gap between generations. James has successfully parlayed a rambunctious personality into a brand in and of itself, his feisty persona-a big seller.  But instead of merely wearing multiple endorsement “badges”, James used his popularity to launch his own business: LRMR Innovative Marketing & Branding.  As such, the name LeBron James has become a veritable buzzword in the media—so much so that even those who aren’t basketball fans recognize the magnitude of his presence in pop culture.

Now a free agent, LeBron James has the sports world on its heels as he determines where his royal brand will make history next.

Updated: On Thursday, July 8 LeBron James announced that he was leaving the Cleveland Cavaliers and joining Dwyane Wade and Chris Bosh on the Miami Heat basketball team. While there is much disappointment in LeBron’s hometown, this move to South Florida marks a new era for the LeBron James brand.

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