LeBron James, 25, is arguably professional basketball’s biggest star. A member of the Cleveland Cavaliers since jumping straight from high school in 2003, he has led the Cavs to playoff berths for six consecutive seasons. In addition to his basketball salary, he makes many millions each year from endorsements. In December 2007, James was ranked first in the Forbes “Top 20 Earners Under 25” with annual earnings of estimated at $27 million. He is a very wealthy young man with more lucre to come.
His contract with the Cavaliers ended in 2009. He is now a free agent and has been courted by every NBA front office with enough money available to make a serious offer. He is reported to have met with five teams other than the Cavaliers: the Chicago Bulls, Los Angeles Clippers, Miami Heat, New Jersey Nets, and New York Knicks.
James has scheduled a televised press conference tomorrow on ESPN (9 a.m. EDT) to announce his decision. If you are an NBA fan (I’m not), this will be very big news. What makes this interesting to the non-NBA fan is James’ request to sell sponsorship for the special broadcast with proceeds going to the Boys and Girls Clubs of America. He appears to be a well-grounded and clear-thinking man.
I am fairly sure that LeBron James does not read my blog (if he does, he has never commented). But if he did, here’s what I would suggest to him.
Since there is a salary cap in the NBA, and you are surely going to press hard against that ceiling, why not sign with the team that can convince its wealthiest fans to up the ante outside the salary cap, by donating many(!) extra millions into a LeBron James Good Deeds Foundation (funding the Boys and Girls Clubs is a great start). There are scores of very well-heeled fans who would leap at the opportunity to contribute if you’d play for their home team.
LeBron, you have a gift. The fans love you. Ask them to follow your lead and do good deeds.
Oracle’s Larry Ellison loves sailing so much, he is reported to have invested $200 million in the most recent America’s Cup Race. I suspect LeBron James could muster fans to come close to that number.