This should go over well.
LeBron James, in his continuing quest to become the most powerful brand in sports, has struck a deal for his Nike brand to sponsor three universities. Players at the University of Miami (the U) will wear the brand, which makes sense, given not only they share of the city with the Heat, but there is closeness with new head coach Jim Larranaga and LeBron’s business manager Maverick Carter. Kentucky will also sport the gear, which again makes sense given James’ closeness with John Calipari (a connection through World Wide Wes) and his frequent stops there during the season.
Oh, and Ohio State will also sport the gear.
…Yeah. From the South Florida Sun-Sentinel:
The University of Miami men’s basketball team will be sporting LeBron James-branded Nike gear this coming season thanks to a sponsorship deal with the Miami Heat superstar, two sources said Friday.
James will also be sponsoring Ohio State and Kentucky.
UM players were told the news by Coach Jim Larranaga on Thursday.
James’ publicist, Keith Estabrook, said he wouldn’t comment on the matter and directed all questions to Nike, which didn’t immediately return an email from the Sun Sentinel.
So The Ohio State University, the most popular university in Ohio, will wear the branded gear of the most hated man in the state, who abandoned his home-state Cavaliers, leading to the longest losing streak in NBA history.
This should go over extremely well.
But it’s a big deal for James’ brand as it attempts to reach the kind of heights it has targeted. That kind of exposure is phenomenal and only makes him more of an icon to the players coming up through those ranks. Still, it’ll be weird for Cavaliers fans in Columbus to realize they’re cheering on young men wearing the mark of the man they so despise.
It’s been a year since The Decision and James is still finding ways to cause outrage in Ohio.
Update:Turns out OSU has had gear which was tied to James since 2007, but this marks the first official branding of their gear under LeBron’s specific brand. HT: NorthCoastKid on Twitter.