As the editor of MulticulturalMarketing.com, PR practitioner and journalist, I think I saw last night’s LeBron fest through a skewed lens. While the marketing savvy was amazing (note the MANY Vitamin Water ads and strategic placement of the Vitamin Water vending machines in the Boys & Girls Club) and the PR tie-in was noble (not-for-profit contributions are STRESSED these days, so the free air time for the Boys & Girls Club was awesome – shout out to Brooklyn’s Navy Yard Boys & Girls Club), I think the fact that I am a new basketball fan (BOSTON!) showed in my reaction to LeBron’s announcement that he would head south to join the Miami Heat.
I thought it was great and know it had to be a hard decision. I’ve always liked LeBron – for his personality, obvious skill, smarts (members of his inner circle include Warren Buffet, Jay Z and Bill Gates) and his “swagger.” This 25-year-old man wants to win, and after giving seven years to the Cavs, the ache of that empty ring finger was too much. So he decided he wanted to head down to South Beach for a better chance at reaching that goal. Seems logical enough to me.
Yet, that’s the issue – die-hard basketball fans are VERY PASSIONATE PEOPLE. Logic isn’t what’s at issue here. To quote my better half, “Sports is an industry built on history. Historically, this changes everything for him.” Fans know all the random stats, trades, coaches, injuries and historical significance of league changing decisions, all the stuff that jumbles in my mind. Most importantly, fans NEVER forget and pass on resentments and rivalries from generation to generation. In LeBron’s case, some Cavalier fans will always be LeBron fans (raises hand) and others, well… just won’t.
Exhibit A: Cleveland Cavaliers owner Dan Gilbert’s open letter to Cavalier fans on NBA.com:
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.
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….
Yikes. Good luck, Mr. James. I hope you have a tough skin, kid.