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LeBron Wants To Become First Athlete Billionaire in the World

Discussion in 'NBA Dish' started by Omer, Aug 23, 2006.

  1. Omer

    Omer Member

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    LeBron seriously means business
    Cavaliers star says goal is to become first athlete in world to be billionaire
    By Brian Windhorst
    Beacon Journal sportswriter

    SAPPORO, JAPAN - Just inside room 748 at the Renaissance Hotel, two mannequins guarded the door and marble hallway like Nike sentinels.

    Dressed head-to-toe in Team USA basketball garb -- a valuable association Nike has paid millions to exploit -- on their feet were LeBron James' two newest shoe designs. The walls were plastered with James photos, model action shots, studio shots and high-fashion glamour shots.

    In front of gold curtains and a giant rack of Nike basketballs, the man himself lounged on a black leather couch, his back resting against a throw pillow with his picture on it. James listened intently to questions in broken English. His answers instantly were translated into a microphone and beamed to more than a dozen reporters' earphones as flashbulbs popped endlessly.

    After a while, the Chinese media were halted and ushered out by bilingual Nike public relations staff members. James stepped into another room in the suite, past the black glass bar, to hang out with friend and teammate Chris Paul while Japanese journalists were hustled in for their face time.

    It might seem routine or inconsequential, another bland press conference on a gloomy Monday afternoon, but this was billion-dollar business. James might indeed be in Asia to help Team USA win the 2006 FIBA World Championship without salary, but it is all part of a giant marketing scheme with massive stakes.

    Whether he'll make it or not, James has set the goal of becoming the world's first athlete billionaire. Those ambitious plans go well beyond the saturated U.S. market.

    They aim to tap the massive growth potential for basketball in all of Asia, where millions of teenagers are awakening to basketball in an exploding marketplace.

    Athletic shoe and apparel retailers are growing in China. The two major shoe companies, Nike and the newly merged adidas-Reebok, are battling in the massive market, and James smells opportunity.

    ``I say all the time, and I tell my friends and teammates, that you have to go global,'' James said. ``In basketball and business.''

    It is more than just talk.

    James and his new company, LRMR Marketing, have made China and Japan huge targets. As they outlined at a seminar last month in Akron, James has a strategy to increase his exposure in Asia by Aug. 8, 2008, the opening of the Beijing Olympics.

    That's why it was a lock that he would be playing for Team USA this summer in the world championship. Additionally, the Cavaliers are in talks to open the NBA season next year playing in China, and he's planning on being back in 2008 for the Olympics.

    ``It is only going to help my business,'' James said. ``Once I knew the world games were going to be in Japan, I knew I was going to be on board.''

    There is serious competition, especially from Reebok pitchman and Chinese national hero Yao Ming and adidas' top endorser, Tracy McGrady. But James is working on it, even taking Mandarin Chinese lessons with the hope of being able to conduct interviews by 2008.

    The interview session Monday came on an afternoon when Team USA was off and no media access was granted to players. Nike organized the James press conferences to make sure the large Asian media contingent could get exclusive access when there were no games or other interviews to distract them.

    Nike's influence on Team USA is extensive and has been criticized. Some have dubbed Team USA as ``Team Nike'' because nine of the players have Nike ties. Some have suggested that head coach Mike Krzyzewski, who has a Nike contract at Duke, was part of the plot. Of course, when Reebok's Allen Iverson wasn't asked to join the team, the conspiracy theory only deepened.

    Nike designed a new campaign for the world championship dubbed ``The Ambassadors,'' featuring James, Argentina's Manu Ginobili, Spain's Pau Gasol, France's Tony Parker, Germany's Dirk Nowitzki and the next potential Asian star, Yi Jianlian of China.

    Other campaigns have been directed specifically to the Chinese, including an initial launch of just 1,000 pairs of a special edition James shoe last winter that had teenagers lining up at stores like American teens used to clamor for Michael Jordan's new signature designs.

    Team USA's appearances in exhibition games this month in Guangzhou, China, and Seoul, South Korea, fueled the rapid interest.

    ``There is a craving (in Asia) for basketball. You can see it in people's eyes,'' Krzyzewski said. ``You get that atmosphere with that populous. I see this being the global sport eventually.''

    http://www.ohio.com/mld/ohio/sports/special_packages/lebron_james/15330919.htm

    All I can say is, learning Mandarin Chinese, wow.
     
  2. robbie380

    robbie380 ლ(▀̿Ĺ̯▀̿ ̿ლ)
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    anyone know where MJ is at net? i thought he was just under 500 mil. i can't see him accelerating his earning power since he is retired and doesn't really care too much about business. so it looks like it's lebron's for the taking if he wants it. he has to catch up to kobe first though.
     
  3. A-Train

    A-Train Contributing Member

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    El Tigre might make it first...
     
  4. weslinder

    weslinder Contributing Member

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    As a personal opinion, I would like to see Jordan get further involved in motorcycle racing. His AMA team is good and they have top-notch support, but it's really a AA circuit. I would really like to see him get into MotoGP, work to expand it in the US, and work to get media attention. MotoGP is the most exciting racing in the world, and US consumers should have better options than Speed Channel taped and edited.
     
  5. weslinder

    weslinder Contributing Member

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    On a brief search, apparently he'll hit $1B in 2013. Schumacher should get there right behind him. (Although by then he will probably have moved from athlete category to owner category.)
     
  6. Omer

    Omer Member

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  7. rrj_gamz

    rrj_gamz Contributing Member

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    It's only money...An incredible amount of money...Tiger, should, as he sells equipment, plus clothes and shoes...His endorsements cover everything from cars to AMEX...Very marketable..NOt to say James isn't...
     
  8. tiger0330

    tiger0330 Contributing Member

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    Tiger Woods has a better chance. A golf career can last 3 times as long as a basketball career. Lebron has 15 years to make the most of his earning potential from basketball and he better not suffer a serious injury. One of the most marketable athletes in the 90's was Bo Jackson, who can forget those Nike Bo Knows commercials, but he quickly faded into oblivion after his injury.

    Lebron is going to have to make some good investments outside of basketball if he is to ever approach billionaire status.
     
  9. DrLudicrous

    DrLudicrous Contributing Member

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    But Tiger plays golf, therefore he is not an athlete and doesn't count.
     
  10. Williamson

    Williamson HARTENSTEIN ONLY FAN
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    Magic Johnson is worth over half a billion dollars too. He's a hell of a businessman - and it doesn't look as though he plans to stop making money anytime soon. I think there are at least a few athletes who could possibly hit a billion dollars before Lebron could ever get there - and if Lebron is to get there, it'll likely have to be as much from business as from endorsement deals and contracts.
     
  11. anitasri

    anitasri Member

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    Regarding Magic A revenue of a half billion- and that does not count as net worth.
     
  12. c1utchfan925

    c1utchfan925 Contributing Member

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    although lebron's shoes look nice, i would take jordans 13's over them.
     
  13. WhoMikeJames

    WhoMikeJames Contributing Member

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    Ok LeBron... At least you have money man..
     
  14. Omer

    Omer Member

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    Personally, I hope T-Mac gets him.
     
  15. blackistan

    blackistan Member

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    i didnt know he wuz greedy like that
     
  16. TracyMcCrazyeye

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    MJ was on 60 Minutes recently and it said that he has an estimated worth of 500 mill.
     
  17. Major Malcontent

    Major Malcontent Contributing Member

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    So you mean LeBron isn't playing for the US out of patriotic fervor. And might not have played if the competition was in East Timor??

    Shocking!
     
  18. aussie rocket

    aussie rocket Member

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    Yeah so your awesome at basketball - you really deserve not just millions - but billions of dollars.

    and you talk about aiming for that in public!

    with all the issues of poverty etc in the world?

    makes me :mad:
     
  19. crums17

    crums17 Contributing Member

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    I also want a billion dollars.

    Somebody get an article written up stat.
     
  20. crums17

    crums17 Contributing Member

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    Go eat some Ben & Jerry's commie.
     
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