Our beloved Brew.

Our beloved Brew.
R.I.P. Big guy.

Wednesday, June 3, 2009

LeBron James Dilutes His Brand

I admit it right up front, I am not an NBA fan and I would not consider paying to attend a game.

To this "non fan" the product offered by the NBA seems dominated by characters with whom I cannot connect. Tattoo covered bodies, "ghetto sheik" attitudes, and under-educated, over-paid man-children are not elements with which I can identify. In the end, all branding is about creating an "I see me" bond with the intended audience.

A prime example of everything I find distasteful in the NBA is personified in Cleveland Cavs star LeBron James. I admit he has become one of the biggest names in the league, and I am told, is considered by many to be the best player in the league, which no doubt has added immeasurably to his own brand advancement. Brands can sometimes be fragile things. Speaking strictly from a brand perspective, I believe he severely devalued his brand by refusing to shake hands with his opponents after losing in the league playoffs, which resulted in a firestorm of negative publicity.

Depending on which side of the argument you stand, he either advanced or detracted from the NBA brand value as well. There are those people who believe the league works hard to both embrace and control its "ghetto sheik" reputation because it draws urban crowds, and suburban "wannabes." Every "monster jam" is now followed by a demonstration of "monster" antics. The snarling, chest thumping, and primal screams by players get more and more theatrical and detract from the sport for me. I would never consider bringing my teenagers to an NBA game. There are exposed to enough ill-mannered examples in life without me appearing to endorse that kind of behavior.

Finally, Mr. James' actions reminded me of something someone else said, "Sports do not create character as much as reveal it." Perhaps Mr. James' actions will serve as reminder to all of us to examine our own behaviors and recognize examples where our own best character can come forth.