Lebron to Opt Out

31f76-dad2527s2bback2band2bbrought2bhis2bbeltSo LeBron has advised the Heat that he’s going to exercise his early termination clause in his contract and become a free agent.

This is not a surprise. If you’re a Heat fan, you should’ve expected this. The bigger surprise would have been if LBJ opted into the deal. That would’ve been a shocker and bad for business.

In order to “retool” the roster as Pat Riley stated in his rant the other day, the Big 3 all need to opt out and take less money to get better players.

But if the players are going to take less money, owner Mickey Arison has to be willing to venture into the luxury tax zone. The meetings between the Big 3, Riles, and Arison are going to be critical to the Heat’s future.

All of these guys took pay cuts to get guys like Udonis Haslem and Mike Miller on the team. When push came to shove, Arison and Riley cut Miller because Mick didn’t want to pay any luxury tax. If I’m part of the Big 3, LeBron especially, Arison is going to need to assure me that he’s all about winning and not making a profit.

They took pay cuts to win and Mick got cheap and let a key member of the team go in order to save money.

If I’m LeBron, that decision flies in the face of all of the rhetoric Riles was spittin’ the other day about sticking it out and having guts. Don’t talk about family, having guts, and sacrifice when the owner cuts a key player to save some cash.

Arison is going to have to put up or shut up in order to keep this trio together.

In the end, I believe LeBron will stay in Miami and the team will do all possible to build a winner.

But I also never thought LeBron would sit on TV and utter the now infamous phrase “I’m taking my talents to South Beach”, so take that for what you will.

Its all a guess, but I’m guessing the King remains in South Florida, otherwise Heat fans will be falling out on Ocean Drive and not from the alcohol…



– N.D. Face



Quick Hits

From time to time, we like to do this quick hits section to log a few things that have our attention.   And away we go…

1. Drizzle

Fresh on the back of his latest concert in Portland, Oregon, it has been leaked that Drake and Jordan Brand have reached an agreement.  I think that it was confirmed on Michael Jordan’s Twitter feed.  I am going to be scratching my head about this one for a long time.  Last week, Kanye was burning up the airwaves shouting about how NIKE, Jordan Brand’s parent, wouldn’t pay him royalties.  So he was taking his ball and leaving to take his talents to adidas.

This week, Drake signs with Jordan.  I am not sure who made that decision, but Drake will never be the artist or the style icon that Kanye is.  We can also be certain that Drake is not getting any royalties in his deal.  Granted Kanye is a loudmouth loose cannon, but his NIKE Air Yeezy was one of the hottest NIKE shoes of the past few years.  Will Drake offer similar heat?  I think NOT.  I would love to be wrong about this one, but I am imagining a lot of lame Drizzy rhymes with Jordan Brand.

As a child of 1980s, I must step back and admire how far the art form of rap has evolved.  I am almost certain that Run-DMC got their adidas sponsorship many years after their mega-hit “My Adidas.”  Now, you have a Canadian artist signing with basketball’s only luxury brand and he is not even close to the hottest rapper in the game at the moment.  Get yours, Drizzy!!

2. If it is nice, do it twice.

The NBA marketing office must be salivating over this one.  Any time you put a basketball player next to the world’s #1 soccer player, it is a huge opportunity to attract a legion of soccer fans to the game of basketball.  Turkish Airlines decided to repeat their extremely successful ad campaign featuring Kobe Bryant and Soccer giant Lionel Messi.  Their first ad campaign got 105 million YouTube views alone.   The newest ad campaign, The Selfie Shootout, should be equally successful.  If you ever ask yourself why the NBA is playing pre-season games in Turkey, ad campaigns like this one by Turkey’s #1 airline show you just how popular the sport of basketball is in Turkey, a country of nearly 80 million people.


The Future Is Now

imgres     MapMyFitness-logo

The world of sport is rapidly changing as a result of the digital frontier. A few weeks ago, Under Armour, a relatively new brand in basketball and a significant player in the athletic training business, invested $150 Million to buy an app company, Map My Fitness. Map My Fitness is a digital fitness platform that runs on both the iOS and Android platforms with over 20 million users worldwide and also includes its flagship brands, Map My Ride and Map My Run.

This acquisition is quite significant for a few reasons. The first is the purchase price represents nearly 10% of Under Armour’s annual revenues, but several of the app company’s products are free and would offer no substantial immediate revenue. It almost seems too expensive for the value that it delivers. Secondly, the traditional model for growth in sporting goods business has been through expensive sponsorship and endorsement deals. Under Armour has yet to find an elite signature athlete in any of its big sports — soccer, basketball or football. Its biggest to date are Stephen Curry, Cam Newton and Auburn University, quite popular as of late after the miraculous Alabama upset over the weekend. However, rather than saving this money to attempt to sign one of the elite NBA prospects joining the league next season (Julius Randle, Jabari Parker, Andrew Wiggins, etc.) or to throw crazy money at Kevin Durant who will be a free agent soon, Under Armour opted to invest in the digital world. Third, it places Under Armour second in the digital sport world behind NIKE with its NIKE+ running and Fuelband communities, but ahead of adidas and Puma. I think that this is the real reason that Under Armour spent the money.

By the way, if you know the founders of MapMyFitness, you might want to call and ask for a loan or even their hand in marriage. They got a sale price of $150M for a company that is only 6 years old. OMG!


All is right in the world

TJB Readers:

Check out the new Foot Locker ad campaign as Kyrie Irving tries to put right all that is wrong in the world.  I particularly loved the fact that Craig Sager set fire to his closet full of hideous blazers.  Enjoy!!




We are now down to the final two teams vying for the NBA championship.  Your favorite team has no chance of advancing to this phase without a General Manager (GM) who is a champ like Jerry West, the legendary architect of the great Lakers teams.  With a GM who is a chump like Elgin Baylor, the infamous GM of the L.A. Clippers who had a knack for drafting underachievers in the lottery on annual basis, the definition of success is just making the playoffs.  Sometimes not making the playoffs is a blessing because you have the opportunity to get better quickly with a few good selections in the lottery, however your GM could also overlook those future stars to draft players like Danny Ferry, Bo Kimble, Michael Olowokandi, and Lamond Murray.  Anyone remember any of those names?  Nope, not unless you are a Clippers fan at least.  Well, forgive me for digressing and back to the lecture at hand.  Actually, it should have been clear to the fans of a team long before now whether their squad has a bloated payroll of untradeable contracts.  However, I feel that it is time that we look at it from a more statistical perspective.

The NBA Finals pits the Miami Heat, the league’s 4th highest payroll ($83M) against the San Antonio Spurs, the league’s 12th highest payroll ($69M).  These statistics are courtesy of HoopsHype.com.  With 66 regular season wins, Miami paid its players $1.26M per win.  You can compare that San Antonio’s 58 regular season wins and it paid its roster $1.18M per win.  Those seem like great metrics until you compare them to the payrolls of the teams that did not advance beyond the conference finals.  The teams that were sent fishing by the Finals contenders, the Memphis Grizzlies and the Indiana Pacers, have the 25th and 22nd highest payrolls in the league.  Money clearly does not buy you success in the NBA. Based on the previous statistic alone, the coach and front office of Memphis and Indiana ought to be nominated for sainthood.  Oh wait, Memphis did not re-sign Lionel Hollins.  #fail!

While we are talking money, it is also important to take stock of the money generated by basketball footwear sales.  We just posted a video under this section dealing with the sneakerhead world, but we want to let you know how real the money is.  SportsOneSource, a research firm, has calculated that NIKE’s Lebron X (pictured above) has generated $300 Million in retail sales.  These revenues are up 50% from the Lebron IX shoe.  Lebron outsold his nearest rival’s signature shoe by a ratio of 6-to-1.  See the list of the other top-selling signature basketball shoes below.

Kobe Bryant (Nike): $50 million

Carmelo Anthony (Jordan): $40 million

Kevin Durant (Nike): $35 million

Derrick Rose (Adidas): $25 million

John Wall (Reebok): $5 million

Dwight Howard (Adidas): $5 million

Source: SportsOneSource


An insider’s look at the Sneakerhead culture

ESPN Sports Business reporter Darren Rovell takes an intelligent approach on the sneakerhead culture.  It is kinda amazing how NIKE has managed to dominate the hearts and minds of those among us who are willing to pay hundreds of dollars for a sneaker.  In the story, you will notice that almost all of the shoes that the sneakerheads are crazy over are NIKE.


From WMD to Pandemic, it is still the same weak dope…

On Tuesday, weeks of speculation regarding the potential name change of the Charlotte Bobcats came to an end when Michael Jordan announced that the Charlotte Bobcats would begin the process of renaming the franchise to the old name of the Charlotte Hornets.  The Bobcats believe in this decision so strongly that it will cost them nearly $4 million to complete this task.  The basketball team in Charlotte played under the nickname of the Hornets from the franchise’s creation in 1988 until its departure for New Orleans in 2002.  In 1988, both the Miami Heat and the Charlotte Hornets entered the NBA as expansion teams.  The Charlotte Hornets have had some brilliant moments culminating in Alonzo Mourning’s 1993 NBA Playoffs Game 4 jump shot that ended Hall of Famer Kevin McHale’s career.  The Charlotte community loved those Hornets.  In fact, those Hornets had over 8 years’ worth of consecutively sold-out games, which is an unbelievable record considering that their best players were Dell Curry, Alonzo Mourning, Larry Johnson (the NBA’s first cross-dressing power forward as Converse’s Grandmama), Kendall Gill, and Glen Rice.  All of them were elite NBA players at various points in their careers, but none of them are first-ballot Hall of Famers.  To be truthful, Mourning is not eligible for induction in the Hall of Fame until next year, but I would not expect him to make it the first year that he is eligible.  Charlotte was clearly a loyal fan base.  Somehow, the owners of the team managed to turn this mountain of gold into a pile of sand.  Attendance began declining as the fan base began to fall out of love with the ownership.  The then-current owners of the team, Ray Woolridge and George Shinn, claimed to be losing money to the tune of $15-$20 Million per year as attendance declined.  Things hit rock bottom when the voter referendum for finance for a new arena was rejected by the citizens of the Great State of North Carolina.  Despite the team’s departure from Charlotte, the name “Hornets” still has a lot of goodwill in Charlotte.

However, you can tell that this is clearly a “Hail Mary” strategy from Michael Jordan and the leadership of the Charlotte franchise.  It is all about the quality of the product and not what you call it.  Or is it?  For those of you who are fans of the Wire, Stringer Bell of the Barksdale Crew found himself in precisely the same position in Season 3.  Family capo Avon Barksdale was locked up and the Crew’s dope and coke connect started serving them a weak supply.  Dope fiends in The Wire’s Baltimore west side started wandering across town for that fire from Eastside dealer Prop Joe.   Bell, realizing that he was unable to do anything to improve the quality of his product, decides to change the street name from “WMD” to “Pandemic.”  It was a short-term fix, but certainly caused a few fiends to invest their daily blast money into more poor quality product from the Barksdale Crew.

With the #4 spot in this year’s draft and no elite players on the roster for next year, the Bobcats certainly need something to distract the fan base from the current state of affairs.  To be fair, there is certainly some young talent with Gerald Henderson, Michael Kidd-Gilchrist and Kemba Walker, yet this team is still years away from relevance.  Jordan could be trying this renaming strategy to buy some time until he is able to get a parting gift from Commissioner David Stern and the NBA owners that Jordan made rich over the course of his career.  What gift do you give a man that already has everything?  The #1 draft pick in the 2014 NBA Draft, Andrew Wiggins.  Sound crazy? I don’t know.  N.D. Face thinks that it is a distinct possibility and I agree with him.


Throwback Thursday

On the website for Ad Age, I read a statistic that I found eye-popping.  In 2011, there were 46 companies worldwide that each spent over $1 Billion dollars on marketing.  Did you imagine that so many companies have spent that much money to find ways to influence you to buy their particular product or service?  This statistic got me thinking about those companies over the years that have figured the exact way to speak to the basketball loving consumers like us.  Those companies are the inspiration for this week’s Throwback Thursday.  I have decided to list my 3 favorite commercials from companies speaking to the basketball world.

1.  Basketball Jesus’ Frozen Moment.  This one still gives me goosebumps.

2. Children of the 1980s simply know this one as the “Sprite Commercial”

3. Freestyle (Lamar Odom, Vince Carter, Rasheed Wallace, etc.)

Stay Thirsty, my friends.




Hoop Dreams Deflated


Ever hear the expression that you have to beat the best to be best?  Once upon a time, LeBron James was a precocious talent from basketball netherworld Akron, Ohio and looking to establish himself as the unrivaled #1 high school player in the nation.  To do that, LeBron first had to dethrone NYC native Lenny Cooke.  As King James, LeBron has gotten the chance to write his own story.  This new documentary recently shown at the Tribeca Film Festival tells us the untold story of that gifted player whose name was removed from the marquee when King James arrived.

I can’t wait to see this.-GPABaller

Reebok, baby, you need to try some new things.


On Thursday, Reebok cut its relationship with Miami rapper Rick Ross a/k/a Ricky Rozay over his controversial lyrics in the song “U.O.E.N.O.” and his even more glaring failure to apologize sincerely.  The controversial lyrics are “Put molly all in her champagne, she ain’t even know it. I took her home and I enjoyed that, she ain’t even know it.”

Sidebar: When did the definition of a molly become common knowledge? I know that Ricky Rozay longs for the days when rap lyrics were a code decipherable only by a select few.

A certain amount of misogynism has been accepted in rap,  but Ross’ comments were even too much for a tolerant rap listening community.  In early April, Ross realized the offensive nature of his lyrics and did what all celebs who screw the pooch should do.  He took to Twitter.

Screen shot 2013-04-13 at 1.04.07 PM

As far as apologies go, this has to be one of the worst in history.  Further, it is unclear if this apology is to women who would be offended by his promotion of rape or to his sponsors, Reebok, in particular.  As the level of toxicity that Ross was bringing to the Reebok brand began reaching near poisonous levels, Reebok’s next step became as clear as the diamonds in Ross’ watch.  Ricky Rozay, you’re fired!!

For the record, I agree that Ross needed to go, but that does not truly address the issue.  Cutting Ross is a bit hypocritical when Reebok has other rappers on their roster, past and present, who are no less morally bankrupt.  Rap is often the one media outlet for the ills of the poor neighborhoods in America’s urban cities.  Further, it is a law of nature that rappers who seem more rebellious, ruthless and aggressive tend to have wider appeal than rappers who seem happy, wholesome and non-threatening.  Therefore, successful rappers by definition are going to say things that will make a lot of people uncomfortable, VERY UNCOMFORTABLE.  Those same successful rappers will bring a lot of heat to your brand if you sign them as endorsers. Reebok clearly wants that heat.

Reebok has been cozy with the hip-hop community since partnering with Jay-Z in 2003 when they released the S. Carter Collection by Rbk and that shoe become the fastest selling shoe in Reebok’s history.  While Jay-Z is now palling around with President Obama and also the face of a rapidly growing media and entertainment empire, let us not forget that Jay-Z has talked about moving a lot of weight in his music over the years.  So promoting rape is NOT OKAY, but promoting the drug trade is JUST FINE?

On the back of such success, Reebok was hungry for another quick hit with the hip-hop community, so it sold a reported 3.8 million pairs of shoes with 50 Cent and G. Unit.  50 Cent, who was last seen getting stiff-armed by Erin Andrews on national television, has been quoted as saying the following, “England’s drinking laws are definitely going to cause more threesomes and if you’re out that late, you gotta feed the girl the champagne. They love that stuff.”  50 Cent is not too far off message from Ross with that comment.

When Reebok made the decision in 2003 to do business with the hip-hop community, it should have also committed to stand up to the public relations storms that were sure to come.  It would be like hiring Charlie Sheen and then firing him as soon as he is photographed with his face in a mountain of cocaine like Tony Montana in or shows up on TMZ fondling porn stars.  It is Charlie Sheen, what do you think he is going to do?  Firing Ross is the easy thing to do, but firing him alone doesn’t solve the problem.  The firing should have been coupled with an announcement that Reebok would donate money to fund date rape prevention on college campuses or funding rape treatment centers.  If you do think that firing Ross solved the problem, read what fellow rapper and Reebok endorser, Tyga, had to say about the situation.

“It’s like freedom of speech,” said Tyga. People act like they don’t condone it. Like you can’t say what you feel. You know what I’m saying? It’s just stupid. What he said that’s just freedom of speech. It wasn’t even his record. For them to do all that off of a mixtape song that wasn’t even his is kinda like – You just got those groups they just wanna [petition].”

Tyga is certainly not going to win any Humanitarian of the Year awards after that comment.  It is not about your freedom of speech, it is about repairing the damage that the free speech caused.

Ironically, the words Ricky said in the song U.O.E.N.O. immediately before the lyrics that cost him his deal were, “I’d die over these Reeboks, You don’t even know it.”

Reebok clearly didn’t feel the same way about you, Ricky.  By the way, please go hire a competent publicist. NOW!!