It’s An Issue of Brand Loyalty (and some other stuff): Why Lebron James Went to Miami

Let the record show that this is my first EVAR sports blog piece.  I’m actually creating a new category for it.

Now on to business.

I usually always scoffed at the comparisons that many cultural critics drew with regards to the NBA players being compared to slaves on the plantation and that the whole deal of the NBA Draft and trades amounted to nothing more than the black men, the Bucks, going to the highest bidder.  Usually I mocked this idea because of the free agency status that players get when their contracts are up and they can shop around to the team that offers them the best contract.

However, in recent memory, since the Cleveland Cavaliers dropped out in the playoffs this past May rumorings about where Lebron James was finally going to end up because his 7 year contract with the team was over with–and he still hadn’t won a championship.  To make a long story short, the intensity of where Lebron was going to go intensified over the last week.  It was everywhere and it had certainly reached a feverish pitch when it was announced that Lebron was going to do it as an ESPN special in an hour long broadcast.

Like for real?!?!

All to announce the Miami Heat.

Not to say that some individuals weren’t shocked, but this was one of those moments where everybody had an opinion, whether in favor, against or even clear about their ambivalence on the issue.  But, clearly, we all see how the Cavs owner Dan Gilbert felt:

Dear Cleveland, All Of Northeast Ohio and Cleveland Cavaliers Supporters Wherever You May Be Tonight;

As you now know, our former hero, who grew up in the very region that he deserted this evening, is no longer a Cleveland Cavalier.

This was announced with a several day, narcissistic, self-promotional build-up culminating with a national TV special of his “decision” unlike anything ever “witnessed” in the history of sports and probably the history of entertainment.

Clearly, this is bitterly disappointing to all of us.

The good news is that the ownership team and the rest of the hard-working, loyal, and driven staff over here at your hometown Cavaliers have not betrayed you nor NEVER will betray you.

There is so much more to tell you about the events of the recent past and our more than exciting future. Over the next several days and weeks, we will be communicating much of that to you.

You simply don’t deserve this kind of cowardly betrayal.

You have given so much and deserve so much more.

In the meantime, I want to make one statement to you tonight:

“I PERSONALLY GUARANTEE THAT THE CLEVELAND CAVALIERS WILL WIN AN NBA CHAMPIONSHIP BEFORE THE SELF-TITLED FORMER ‘KING’ WINS ONE”

You can take it to the bank.

If you thought we were motivated before tonight to bring the hardware to Cleveland, I can tell you that this shameful display of selfishness and betrayal by one of our very own has shifted our “motivation” to previously unknown and previously never experienced levels.

Some people think they should go to heaven but NOT have to die to get there.

Sorry, but that’s simply not how it works.

This shocking act of disloyalty from our home grown “chosen one” sends the exact opposite lesson of what we would want our children to learn. And “who” we would want them to grow-up to become.

But the good news is that this heartless and callous action can only serve as the antidote to the so-called “curse” on Cleveland, Ohio.

The self-declared former “King” will be taking the “curse” with him down south. And until he does “right” by Cleveland and Ohio, James (and the town where he plays) will unfortunately own this dreaded spell and bad karma.

Just watch.

Sleep well, Cleveland.

Tomorrow is a new and much brighter day….

I PROMISE you that our energy, focus, capital, knowledge and experience will be directed at one thing and one thing only:

DELIVERING YOU the championship you have long deserved and is long overdue….

[signed Dan]

While I understand the frustration of losing a superstar the caliber of Lebron, this was just a bit overboard even for my tastes.  He sounds like a slaveowner claiming “The South will rise again” after he watched his prize slave walk away from the plantation after he got word of the end of the Civil War.

Just my opinion though.

But, I think what’s leaving a bad taste in everyone’s mouth is the lack of brand loyalty that Lebron displayed, the perceived ego-trip that he indulged himself on just because he could, and something about going to “Miami” versus one of the northern and colder cities like Chicago or New York just doesn’t sit well in someone’s mouth.  He could have said he was going to Las Vegas (yeah, I know they don’t have a team, I’m just using an example) and the same perception would have been had.

However, there’s just something to be said about brand loyalty.

Remember how mama and daddy, and certainly grandmama and n’em used to keep those kitchen appliances for 20 and 30 years.  And when they bought a new appliance, they bought the same brand.  Same with cars, how your uncle would always buy a Ford or a Chevrolet.  It was just something about sticking with the same brand.  It created a relationship with the people at the car dealership, and you’d even get benefits for being a “loyal customer” and what not.

So in that regard, I can understand why Cleveland fans are hurt, and hurt to the core.  Trust me, after living through the Dark Ages with the Bulls in the post-Jordan era, I can understand.  But as Lebron said last night, for him it was about a championship and he felt he wasn’t going to get one in Cleveland.

Well….they got Byron Scott now and he was a former NBA player and had at least taken the Nets to the Finals a few years back.  And as I said on my Facebook status message, Lebron quit his team after seven years–it took seven years before Michael Jordan got a championship ring with the Bulls.

Lebron is only a month younger than me, and I just can’t help but wonder what was going through his mind with this.  I can only imagine how I could would have handled all of the publicity and the hype.  The guy always comes off as calm, cool and collected off of the court.  He’s well dressed, made the cover of GQ and Esquire magazines, and he’s certainly no Latrell Sprewell  (which is about all the Heat can afford right now, but I’ll leave that to the other sports bloggers.)  But, this decision came off as a contrived media frenzy that not just he, but Dwayne Wade and no doubt Chris Bosh (his new teammates who were up for free agency status as well) had put together.

Is Pat Riley and Micky Arison are smart men.

Although, I know I will be laughing if Cleveland were to win a championship–hell, just make it to the NBA Finals before the Miami Heat does.

But, three all-stars and and a team with a less than stellar performance over the last couple of years do NOT make a championship team.  Even I know that.

However, let’s be honest, for Lebron it wasn’t about his legacy as the “King” that stands a chance of being tarnished and it clearly didn’t make a difference that he was leaving his hometown fans, nor what he had done for the city of Cleveland (the place where rivers catch fire), he was about the championship.

Lebron is 25, which means at his caliber, he easily has another 10-12 years left in the league (unless he wants to be the next Big Arthritis like Shaq) and we still haven’t seen Lebron post peak numbers yet for a season–even personal bests–and I just have one question to ask someone in Lebron shoes:

After you win the championship, what’s next?

Keep it uppity and keep it truthfully radical, JLL


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2 responses to “It’s An Issue of Brand Loyalty (and some other stuff): Why Lebron James Went to Miami

  1. The “brand loyalty” argument is interesting; especially since Lebron is his own brand and where he goes his brand will follow. I actually think that’s what pissed D. Gilbert off the most–Lebron is in total control of his commodity and there was nothing Gilbert could do about that except watch millions of dollars go play on South beach.

    I disagreed with most critics, in that I don’t see Lebron’s decision as an act of extreme ego-centrism or self-adulation. Rather, I think giving up some of his shine and spotlight to go play with two other all-stars for the cause of winning is commendable. All of sports fan should remember that basketball is a team sport. The notion of staying in Cleveland or going to NJ for the purpose of protecting his legacy or remaining the lone KING is the real ego-centric move.

    But like you, I understand Cleveland’s hurt and I wonder what Lebron’s next move will be!

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