Public Enemy Number 1
Two years ago LeBron James was poised to overtake Kobe Bryant and become the next great NBA superstar. That was before two playoff flameouts, a free agency circus and a botched PR program set in motion by his high school buddies and a bunch of clueless Hollywood agents later.
Now he is arguably the most hated man in sports. His new Nike ad is another step in the wrong direction. I don't know what happened to the suits at Nike, but this is the second poorly thought out attempt at damage control from the Portland shoemakers this year. (The ridiculous Tiger Wood's Dad ad being the first.) LeBron comes off like a narcissistic brat who needs his butt kicked hard and often. Worse yet, it appears to be a rehashed take on a similar ad they did with Kobe Bryant earlier in the decade. It's not rocket science what LeBron needs to do, but the jury is still out on if he will do it.
Here are the five ways he can get back in our good graces.
LeBron has been incredibly loyal to his childhood chums, especially Maverick Carter who heads up his "marketing" team. Maverick is quite simply an idiot who doesn't know the first thing about marketing. He has been smart enough to grab onto his childhood friend's coattails and not let go. He's like a combination anchor/barnacle on LeBron's butt. Check out this video of Maverick and his gang of merry fools handling this summer's bizarro jewelry incident involving one of the ugliest pendants ever made. OJ Simpson checked his business better than these clowns.
It's a been a big year for the Emanuel brothers, Ari and Rahm. While Rahm was busy helping bring down Barack Obama's approval ratings, Ari did him one better. He and Jim Gray advised LeBron to put together a little TV show called "The Decision." Now LeBron has lower rating than the President and the Congress. No small feat in 2010.
LeBron needs to do a little research about agents and how they work before he gets worked over again. In The Larry Sanders Show, Bob Odenkirk played a character based on Ari Emanuel, and if Bron had seen the show, he might have questioned the advice he was getting from the head of WME. And he would have at least gotten to see some of the finest work Judd Apatow has ever done. The show was amazing, insightful and entertaining.
William Wesley was dubbed Worldwide Wes by Jalen Rose. He's one of those guys that always seems to be skulking around the powerful and famous. He does nothing other than stroke people's egos and use them. Or in LeBron's case he now gets 10 percent to give terrible advice. He's now at CAA, the former home of Michael Ovitz. There is a reason why Hollywood agencies have never done well with sports. Most of the guys who work at these places sat in the stands with a note from their mothers to get out of Phys. Ed., and they are completely clueless about how sports work. LeBron needs to get a real sports agent and listen up, instead of a user like "Worldwide Wes."
After the summer, it seemed like LeBron had hit bottom. Then he decided to play the race card. It just seems like, every time LeBron or his handlers open their mouths, it gets worse. He just needs to keep his head down, play hard and do his job. And tell his minions to shut the heck up as well. No one wants to hear what they have to say.
America is a very forgiving country. Just ask Kobe Bryant. In 2003, his life hit rock bottom. He was accused of sexual assault, his Laker team was coming apart at the seams and all his endorsements went away. So what did he do? He settled with his accuser, apologized to the fans, kept his head down and worked on his game. That got him part of the way back. Then the Lakers got Pau Gasol, and he started winning championships again. That's how you do it, LeBron.
I'll be honest. I'm not convinced that James is a winner. The kid has talent, but he seems more concerned with coming up with new ways to joke around on the bench than developing a consistent outside shot. And he didn't show much in the playoffs the last two years. But if he does start to get some rings, he won't need the Nike PR department to speak for him. His play will speak for itself.