LeBron James' Business Partner Maverick Carter Talks Nike's Billion-Dollar Deal

Adam Wells@adamwells1985Featured ColumnistMay 17, 2016

Cleveland Cavaliers' LeBron James' business manager Maverick Carter attends the NBA basketball game between the Los Angeles Lakers and Cleveland Cavaliers Thursday, March 10, 2016, in Los Angeles. The Cavaliers won 120-108. (AP Photo/Danny Moloshok)
Danny Moloshok/Associated Press

It's good to be LeBron James.

The Cleveland Cavaliers star is preparing for the Eastern Conference Finals versus the Toronto Raptors, has put himself in line for another massive contract from the team this summer and could end up with another $1 billion thanks to his lifetime deal with Nike.

In December 2015, James and Nike agreed to a lifetime deal. One source told ESPN.com's Darren Rovell the agreement was the "largest single-athlete guarantee in company history." Financial terms of the contract were not disclosed, but USA Today's Sam Amick offered this:

Sam Amick @sam_amick

On LeBron-Nike deal front, I'm told by person w/ knowledge of financials that estimates of between $400 & $500 million are significantly low

Endorsements are not done in a vacuum, however. James is the name on the Nike marquee, but his business partner Maverick Carter was the mastermind behind the arrangement.

In a new, wide-ranging discussion with Mark Anthony Green of GQ, Carter explained how the two parties were able to reach an unprecedented agreement:

You have to go into the room understanding a couple things. You have to know what you want. You have to know how to clearly articulate those things. You have to know what's important to the other side and what they want. Be able to articulate those things, too. And then you have to be willing to not take everything. ... When you're negotiating something like the Nike deal, it's gonna last a lifetime, literally. The minute this negotiation's over, we're gonna work with these people every day. So you don't want to leave them with a bad feeling.

Green attempted to get a concrete answer on how much James' deal with Nike will pay him, but Carter said he "can't say." Upon hearing that Kanye West claimed the contract was for $1 billion, Green said Carter smiled and pointed one finger to the sky.

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Carter said it's "a fantastic deal. Nike feels great about the deal. That's the most important thing. As great as I feel, as great as LeBron feels—Nike feels fantastic about it."

Carter has helped establish James as a multiplatform personality. The four-time NBA MVP is set to star in Space Jam 2 following a supporting role in the Amy Schumer comedy Trainwreck last summer.

James is 31 years old and focused on his basketball career but has said he could retire in his late 30s. One thing's for sure: He'll have plenty of options after his playing career is over.


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