There was a whole lot about the NBA lockout that was really about LeBron James. About who has the power, the owners or players.
But some things are more specific than others. Like this note from the Sports Business Journal (via Eye on Basketball).
NBA players are now prohibited from holding an ownership stake in a player-management firm or from acting as National Basketball Players Association-certified agents under a provision in the league’s new collective-bargaining agreement.
The provision was something NBA owners asked for and players agreed to as one of the so-called B-list items, terms that were collectively bargained after the NBPA re-formed as a union, according to a union source.
This is very directly aimed at LeBron James and his marketing arm LRMR, the marketing firm he and his buddies founded, which last year merged with the Fenway Sports Group. Neither LRMR nor Fenway represent any players in terms of negotiations — they are marketing arms, not agents — but that line is kind of blurred for players now (agents help set up marketing deals all the time) so the owners decided to try and rein it in.
And we have a “LeBron James rule” that tries to limit players power and potential income, something that comes at the request of the owners. Sounds about right.
LRMR has become kind of like C.O.B.R.A. from “G.I. Joe” to people. You don’t know what they do or how they work, exactly, you just know that they’re the bad guys. The marketing firm built around LeBron James and his brand are synonymous with the talk about how players care too much about their brand, and the insider nature of the organization along with its associations with William Wesley make it none too popular. In reality, this is all just backlash around James; who cares who does what in terms of brand management in the NBA? Does it affect anything on the floor? Not really. Still, it should be noted that for the first time since James departed for Miami, LRMR is back in business with the Cavaliers.
Cavaliers’ blog WFNY spoke to Rich Paul, the “R” in LRMR after one of his newest clients for his worth with CAA wound up in Cleveland. Paul represents Tristan Thompson, the Cavaliers’ fourth pick in the NBA Draft for CAA, the megastar agency that holds LeBron, Chris Paul, and Carmelo Anthony in its fold. From WFNY:
Clad in a tailored navy blue sport coat topped off with a 2011 NBA Draft pin in his lapel on this day, the 5-foot-10-inch Paul finds himself in a land of giants. Thompson is just the latest member of his stable of NBA talent as names like Houston’s Jonny Flynn and Los Angeles’ Eric Bledsoe have already helped pave the way for the budding Creative Arts Agency representative. Learning bits and pieces from established reps like Leon Rose, Paul seems focused to make his name in the agent arena. And while LRMR will continue to operate as the marketing arm, Paul tells WFNY that his work with CAA is something completely independent.
via Rich Paul Hopes LeBron James and Dan Gilbert Can Patch Things Up | WaitingForNextYear.
There’s got to be some uneasiness from Cavs fans. After all, just the word LRMR is enough to create outrage there. And CAA is no friend of the fanbase, either. But this is the reality. LRMR will use its connections through James, who WFNY notes Thompson calls “a big brother,” to further their own individual goals. The members of LRMR haven’t been necessarily impressive with their decision in or outside of LRMR beyond “stay friends with James,” but the roster of players they influence is starting to grow. Their sphere of influence could be expanding more with each day.
Have fun thinking that one through, Cavs fans and Heat-haters alike.
Here’s the report, courtesy of USA Today, with a tip of the hat to The Basketball Jones:
On the heels of a stunning Game 1 victory over the Dallas Mavericks Tuesday night and on the brink of a possible first championship, NBA MVP, business mogul and fashion icon LeBron James has announced that he will launch a new, modern luxury concept store in Miami for fall 2011. The store, which will open with a mix of apparel, footwear, printed materials and lifestyle accouterments, with featured brands to include A.P.C., Original Fake and Nike Tier 0 product, will be called Unknwn.
The Jones’ Trey Kirby points out that this store, featuring high-quality streetwear with 50% less vowels than you’d have to deal with at similarly-named stores, could actually be a good idea:
This is a very good idea. Not only is everything in streetwear huge right now, LeBron’s got some great brands signed on. A.P.C. is one of the best denim makers in the world, Original Fake is one of the premier artist-driven brands around and Nike Tier Zero stuff is the fanciest Nike gear you can buy, plus there are sure to be other big-time brands available. (A.P.C. and Original Fake have both done collaborations with the Swoosh, so it’s no surprise they’re being offered at LeBron’s store.) In a city that doesn’t have a super high-end streetwear retailer, this store should do very well.
Considering that LRMR still isn’t drawing very many clients and its overhead has to be higher than LeBron’s vertical leap, it’s nice that LeBron is embarking on a business venture that actually sounds like a good idea. And it’s nice to see that LeBron may actually be learning useful things from his highly-publicized relationship with Jay-Z.
But even still, couldn’t this announcement have waited until the Heat win three more games and actually win the Finals, or a week or two after the Finals if they lose? I’m not a huge believer in superstition, but this seems like (no pun intended) a bad karma move from the league’s best player.
You remember when we finally got through “The Decision” and we were so excited because we wouldn’t have to talk about LeBron for a while? Well, Chris Paul has come in and hijacked our summer away from us.
Howard Beck of the New York Times, that fancy inkrag up New York way brings us news that Chris Paul has told a league official while in Vegas that he has not officially signed on with LRMR, LeBron James’ marketing firm run by Maverick Carter. From the Times;
Although he is considering LRMR, Paul said he had not yet made a
decision, according to the official, who asked to remain anonymous to
protect their relationship.
Paul cut ties with his longtime agency, Octagon, earlier this month.
He has hired one significant member of James’s circle: Leon Rose, an
agent with C.A.A. Rose is close to William Wesley, a confidant to
several N.B.A. players, including James.
So at least part of Paul is resisting being under the spell of LRMR. With Adrian Wojnarowski’s bombastic article fileting Paul for letting LRMR essentially run his life, (true story: the article supposes that James and Maverick fly around wearing cloaks and cackling maniacally) (that’s not a true story), Paul may be getting antsy about all the criticism of him being a pawn in LRMR’s game.
LRMR’s popularity is at an all-time low after “The Decision” and the ensuing aftermath, and this whole Paul situation isn’t helping at all. Then again, there are a ton of questions as to whether the Paul rumors were sourced from Paul, LRMR, or the CAA branch run by William Wesley.
It’s become pretty obvious that there’s a lot of confusion reigning regarding the CP3 trade rumors. Maybe after Monday’s meeting between Paul and team officials, we’ll get some clarity. Don’t hold your breath, though. You’ll wind up passing out like Cleveland.
Chris Paul wants to get traded, we get it. What we don’t get is where, exactly.
The first report from Ken Berger of CBSSports.com said the Knicks, Magic and Lakers were on the list. But that’s not what ESPN’s Chris Broussard heard, and he is probably as well connected with LeBron’s people and the marketing firm LRMR as anyone (and Paul signed with LRMR recently).
Sources told Broussard on Thursday that the Knicks and Magic are on Paul’s list of preferred destinations, but the Lakers are not. Sources told Broussard that the Portland Trail Blazers and Dallas Mavericks are also in the running if Paul were to be traded.
All four of those teams make some sense (although could Paul and Brandon Roy, two guys who like the ball in their hands, really co-exist well?). More sense than the Lakers, anyway. New York and Orlando make a ton of sense, great pick-and-roll partners in those cities.
Personally, I’ve said the Hornets should not trade Paul. But if they do, they are not going to just want to move their biggest star — the price is going to be taking on Emeka Okafor or one of the other bad contracts weighing down the Hornets roster. If they are going to rebuild, they will want to clear the decks.
That is going to mean a lot of moving parts in any deal. Expect it to take time, a long time. Or the Hornets could just go through the motions of a deal they never will make.