A King's Legacy
Photo Courtesy: Getty Images/Ringer Illustration
LeBron James has immense gravitational pull. A global super-figure whose every action and word incites a media firestorm. Sports and entertainment, business and education, philanthropy and charitable endeavors orbit his being like the planets running their course throughout the universe.
It resembles fate. You can argue the planets' alignment and paths were predetermined. It's courses bound to take shape as they dash far beyond the clouds accessible to sight. LeBron James was destined for these telling moments in history. These anecdotal epitaphs mark ancient versions of himself.
Similar to on-court play, he vigilantly depicts plays as they unfold moments before they actually occur. He has the ability to set up a teammate for a much needed bucket, driven by visceral instinct. Have you ever seen this man pass a basketball? He's transcending the uncanny talent, and committed to facilitating off the hardwood as well.
Knowing something is there without seeing or feeling it, is faith. LeBron James is rewriting the narrative of what it means to be an athlete. He's rewriting the narrative of what it means to be a black athlete in the modern world. He's showcasing what it means to be a phenomenal athlete and the willingness to be a great human being.
The Chosen One's purpose has evolved over time. It extends beyond the sport of basketball, although that's his mainstay for the moment. He's pretty good at it too.
Despite 33 revolutions around the sun, he's exemplified peak performance on the court. He's even made sure we take notice. In James fashion, he's mocked our skepticism. Backtrack about eight months ago, LeBron shared his view with ESPN's Nick Friedell regarding his prime.
"Hopefully I can break the mold, so when the next guy comes, he can still get $200 or $300 million and be 33 years old. I'm serious. You guys are laughing, I'm serious. This is the mold I'm trying to break. It's not just about me, it's for the next crew, as well...I'll be 33 in 15 days. This is my 15th season, and this is the best I've felt in my career. I want it all." via Bleacher Report.
It's how his Capricorn brain is wired. He endures, is often misunderstood, and easily misinterpreted. He embraces the challenges and embodies the plight of his teammates. He looks to make everyone around him better. LeBron wants to reassure the present. He tinkers with faulty parts that pose a threat to progression. James understands he's better for using his platform to elevate those around him. His impact ripples through more degrees of separation than most. So he fights for the future.
"Three things cannot be long hidden: the sun, the moon, and the truth." - age-old saying
Attempts to muddy his name, likeness, and character have proven to be seemingly fruitless. Likely frustrating too. @ 45
One of POTUS' favorite tactics are to divide, demean, and conquer. James, like the good people in positions of power and great influence, empower the voiceless. Even in the rabid age of social media rampant with vile opinions, there are masses that go unheard.
Of course 45 had to end his tweet with "I like Mike!", because LeBron James right? Michael Jordan has long avoided political bouts with the media for decades. NBA great and activist Kareem Abdul-Jabbar once stated Jordan chose "commerce over conscious". His lackluster endorsement came soon after 45's attack on respectable black men within society. A spokesperson shared MJ's apolitical sentiment:
"I support L.J. He's doing an amazing job for his community."
To Myles Brown's point (GQ), it just doesn't cut it. It's better than nothing, but Abdul-Jabbar's notion seems to ring true to this day. MJ has a billion-dollar fortune to protect. Apparently, It's one that cannot afford conviction in supporting a fellow otherworldly, talented black man. LeBron James is well on his way to becoming a billion-dollar athlete himself at his relatively young age.
He explores all avenues, and finesses opposition into opportunity. When referring to a conversation conducted by Cari Champion with James and Kevin Durant - the superstar players expressed their frustrations with the President's antics.
LeBron shared his lack of compassion for the people. Durant quipped, "The country is not run by a great coach".
Laura Ingraham quickly retorted:
"This is what happens when you attempt to leave high school a year early to join the NBA"
"Must they run their mouths like that? Unfortunately, a lot of kids — and some adults — take these ignorant comments seriously"
"Oh, and LeBron and Kevin, you're great players, but no one voted for you. Millions elected Trump to be their coach. So keep the political commentary to yourself or, as someone once said, shut up and dribble"
James is set to executive produce a Showtime docuseries entitled "Shut Up and Dribble". Gotham Chopra and longtime partner Maverick Carter will also presume executive producer duties. Talk about flipping and monetizing Ingraham's disparaging comments. The announcement came just days after the president shared his view of LeBron James and Don Lemon.
The three-part series is set to premier in October. Nardine Saad of the LA Times reported it will chronicle the cultural, political, socioeconomic evolution of NBA players. Showtime announced Monday it's promise to deliver, "a powerful inside look at the changing role of athletes in our fraught cultural and political environment.”
"The league soon became an incubator for many of its top athletes to grow their brands beyond the court, becoming powerful players in commerce and fashion and transcending the game to become cultural icons."
It also lends the world's most elite athletes to voice their views on world affairs. It's afforded them the ability to speak up and make a difference. James' social influence was marked by the overwhelming outpour and support he received from the world, colleagues, supporters, and friends. Melania Trump took stood firmly in her stance against her husband's outcry, encouraging LeBron for his dedication to communities across the world.
Highsnobiety aptly broke down The LeBron James Effect. He signed a 4-year, $154 million-dollar contract. He'll make $35.6 million next season, with his earnings rising to $41 million in the fourth year of his contract. By the time the four years are up, LeBron will have a record-breaking $387.2 million in NBA career earnings. This tops Kobe Bryant who played 20 seasons and earned $323.3 million in career earnings. Michael Jordan played 15 seasons with $89.8 million in career earnings.
The Lakers opening tickets started around $60 for last season's home opener. With the King's arrival, those ticket sale numbers have skyrocketed to about $545 - approximately 800 percent increase. Season ticket prices took a hike too, from $3,499 to $5,800. After the Lakers deal was announced, jersey retailer Fanatics saw a 600 percent bump in sales. His sponsorship deals notched $52 million in earnings for the year 2017.
It's estimated LeBron's presence in LA will generate roughly 2,989 new jobs and add nearly $400 million to the local economy over the course of his contract. With the progressive thinker in Adam Silver at the helm, sponsorships have boosted the NBA earnings pot as well. Goodyear locked a three-year $10 million dollar deal to emblazon the Cavaliers uniform. They were marked as the most valuable in brand exposure with the King donning the uniform almost every night - $21 million in earned media.
Economist LeRoy Brooks estimated James’ return to Cleveland was worth $500 million to the local economy - via Alec Banks. LeBron James' decisions impact cities, Las Vegas odds, and generates significant wealth.
Act IV - Legacy
Act I of King James’ legacy was about promise, prophecy, limelight, and wonder. He was immediately catapulted into the lore of NBA royalty. The Phenome has always been a blessing and curse.
The basketball gods marked him – infinite talent and colossal scrutiny in the age of internet and social media. He fell with pressures building and shoulders heavy. In Act II, we witnessed a man of conviction. He sought triumph elsewhere and bolted for the glory South Beach would bring. The power dynamics of the NBA shifted once more. At this moment, the narrative changed. When Jordan could not surpass the Boston Celtics or Bad Boy Detroit Pistons, he saw it through.
Act III exemplified a man carrying a heart riddled with balance and seeking growth. The ripple effects of his thoughts and actions provided kaleidoscopic visions of the future.
In Act IV, the universe should appreciate LeBron James, period. Fair warning: do not take him for granted. Amid the Jordan-James debate, he is a one of kind. We have never seen anything like him and he shows no signs of slowing down. He ultralight beamed through his 15th season in the association. We marveled at his feats. King James is 33 years of age, something like a prophet come true.
"LeBron is an evolution of Jordan, not his binary opposite. Like Jordan, he doesn't have to make the same choices as his predecessors. Fame doesn't enable leadership. Outspokenness doesn't ensure responsiveness. But quiet or not, purposeful wealth will always ensure change" - to reference Brown (GQ).
This act is a balance between the game of basketball and the game of life. He looks to transcend the sport while in his prime. Taking after the Hall of Fame mogul that is Magic Johnson. Los Angeles affords James the opportunity to learn all tricks of the trade.
This act is black enterprise, black entrepreneurship, and black excellence.
Magic's expertise and enterprise lends another avenue for LeBron's growth and afterlife away from the game. He too seeks franchise ownership in the future. The partnership coupled with supernova greatness in the boardroom and on the court affords new opportunities for the underprivileged.
Act IV will redefine LeBron’s legacy. The narrative shifts with more rings. At his level, championships only solidify said legacy. The question lies, is there an asterisk for choosing his third franchise in the Los Angeles Lakers?
There shouldn't be. Although his legacy is etched in NBA lore, his fourth act remains just as captivating. James won't be gifted lost tape years such as Shaq, Sir Charles Barkley, and Paul Pierce. In today's age of social media, frenzied coverage, his unearthly athletic durability and coy demeanor in political agenda - we'll be watching.
For his legacy, Act IV carries heavy implications and two aspects of the King. The only player in NBA history with 30,000 points, 8,000 rebounds, and 8,000 assists leads a third franchise to an NBA Championship? The critics would be silenced once and for all.
Philanthropic endeavors including the community and investing in education, youth and their future. I Promise highlights "I can". Magic's mentorship is invaluable. Affluence and activism drive change and progress. In this case, James isn't playing the score of the game rather the game of life.
Bleacher Report, Highsnobiety, The LA Times, and GQ insight contributed to this report
Follow Olivier on Twitter for more insight on hoops, music, and the culture we love