Independent Thinking Blog

4 Reasons LeBron James’ Decision Makes Business Sense

Mike Greenberg said on ESPN Radio this morning that “you need to separate the decision from how it was done.” (He was talking, of course, about LeBron James.)

He’s absolutely right.

My friend Justin Goldsborough has a terrific post on James, Joe Mauer, and brand legacies in sports. His key point:

If he was still hoping to be the biggest brand in the world or the biggest brand ever, that chance is gone. In fact, he won’t even be the biggest brand in Miami. That’s Dwayne Wade’s team.


I agree, but I think–disappointment in Cleveland aside–we shouldn’t lose sight of the fact that James made a business decision. And it was a fascinating one.

1. We’ve known for several years that James, Wade, and several top NBA players took shorter deals in the past in order to time their arrivals on the free agency market. It was a (then) subtle way to level the playing field a bit in a sports world dominated by team owners.

2. One man cannot be responsible for the economic well-being of an entire city. I’m very sympathetic to the people of Cleveland, especially the small business owners who have benefited from great pre-game crowds. But let’s step back and recognize that a business model dependent on one person, one client, or one product being an unending success is a bad business model.

3. One player cannot be responsible for an entire franchise. Plus Dan Gilbert’s classless response on losing his star player tells me he’s the last person I’d want to work for.

4. James is taking less money to work with people he likes and admires. (While we don’t know yet what he’ll earn in Miami, there’s no question it will be far less than the max contract he’d have had in Cleveland.) Isn’t this the type of decision we’d typically be applauding?

What do you think?

Photo by David Shankbone (Flickr).

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