Personal Branding gets Impersonal

By now the world knows about “The Decision“… On a personal note I love seeing all the folks jumping on the LeBron Hater bandwagon. I have been there for some time. That said, there’s an incredibly valuable marketing case study here… Here are the top 5 LeBron screw-ups on managing his brand.

1) Letting one of his bumbling entourage take the reigns of a “marketing” firm (and I use marketing loosely) to manage his career. Some might recall how James fired his agent a while ago and decided he could manage his career better than anyone with a little help from his friends. And it showed… He was clearly not his own man in his decision to publicly humiliate his hometown. I’ll give James this much – he was definitely loyal in standing by Maverick Carter as he flushed LeBron’s legacy down the toilet.

2) He showed the world his true colors via a bachelor style rejection. Without any thought or consideration for Cleveland, the Cavaliers or Dan Gilbert, he dumped them on national television.

3) He made this about LeBron. Not about the game of basketball, not about the teams that supported him. This isn’t rocket science – you proposed an hour special about nothing other than yourself, veiled under the guise of charity.

4) He sold out his legacy. Picking Miami was the easy way out with another superstar there to pick up the slack, along with another all-star who’s no slouch himself. Maybe he doesn’t want the pressure of being the go-to-guy, but then why all the hullaballoo?

5) He’s made it clear to everyone that he’s just an unlikeable ass who’s only real concern is his insatiable appetite for attention and adoration. All I can do is laugh… the inevitable implosion of Camp LeBron all due to his massive ego.

The begging and pleading by fans across the nation is exactly what he wanted.

The courting, the jockeying, all for his amusement.

…And now those fans and those teams have nothing to show for.

He made last night into his personal draft day. But at least in the real draft, every team has the chance to come out ahead. Last night there were only losers, with LeBron being the biggest of them all. Don’t get me wrong, if he had walked away from Cleveland with some class, without all the glitz and glamour, people would have forgiven him (over time), his legacy intact.

But his talents demanded more. Too bad. So Sad.


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  1. #1 by Richard Rezek on July 12, 2010 - 8:33 am

    Hard to argue. These are some great points and with a few days of perspective now seem right on to me. I cannot go along with the Dan Gilbert response and letter to fans, but it sure would be awesome to see Cleveland get an NBA championship before Lebron.

  2. #2 by Kris Kaneta on July 12, 2010 - 12:04 pm

    Rick – Thanks for your comments. I fully agree with your assessment of Gilbert’s rant. It was childish, and while he was rightly critical of LBJ for acting a poor role model, the way he communicated his beef hardly painted himself in a favorable light. And while I wish Cleveland well, I expect it will be a long uphill battle for them.

    I think what will make for a more interesting case study is the measurement of LeBron’s value to Gilbert and the Cavs. You could easily measure the delta on things such as merchandise, tickets, TV and sponsorship dollars. My hope is that his impact will play out to be minimal, but again, I expect much worse.

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