Book publishers primed for a LeBron James playoff run with the Lakers must reimagine their marketing strategy.
James’ image graces the covers of several NBA-related books that recently came out or are about to this spring, including “Elevated: The Global Rise of the NBA” (Triumph Books, $30, 483 pages, coming out Tuesday) and “Sprawlball: A Visual Tour of the New Era of the NBA,” (Houghton Mifflin Harcourt, $25, 250 pages, out April 30).
Brian Windhorst, who during his last nine years at ESPN already has invested plenty of ink in documenting LeBron Inc., has an investment to protect as well.
With his new book, “LeBron Inc.: The Making of a Billion-Dollar Athlete” (Grand Central Publishing, $28, 256 pages, released April 9), Windhorst tries to show how James learned early how to leverage his global branding, with the L.A. landing nothing more than another business decision.
In an interview with Cleveland.com, Windhorst acknowledged that James didn’t do any interviews with him for the book.
“Essentially, [James and his team] have a media company now. … They’re not giving their stories away to anybody else anymore,” Windhorst said.
“LeBron regards his interviews as something he is going to sell himself or use to create some other transaction. Let me be clear. LeBron does hundreds of interviews a year required by his NBA contract. He also does occasional sit-downs with ESPN. But one of the things LeBron has done during his career is set an example for others. He wants to profit off of things that have value that were initially untapped. The days of LeBron James giving interviews without him benefiting financially or in some other way are over.”
Attempts to reach James for comment were not successful.
The early “Jam” session
James and his SpringHill Entertainment company get a head start on his next major media project this summer: a somewhat controversial reboot of “Space Jam” for Warner Bros.
Fans of the original 1996 Michael Jordan-Bugs Bunny live-action animation comedy note it did $230 million at the box office worldwide, the highest-grossing basketball film. Why mess with greatness?
“Space Jam 2” is slotted for release July 16, 2021. But it’s more than just James stepping into Jordan’s Nike shoes and trying to avoid an early “Trainwreck” (see, that’s a reference to the 2015 movie in which James did a cameo with Bill Hader and … never mind).
Stephen Curry, James Harden and Kevin Durant likely will pass on appearing, the Hollywood Reporter says. Curry (Under Armour) and Harden (Adidas) have apparent business conflict with Nike’s connection to the movie’s franchise. Durant (Nike) is likely to pass because he has his Hollywood pursuits with his Thirty Five Media company.
Then again, we see Anthony Davis got a quick start on summer vacation, too. Maybe his people can talk to James’ people and set up a launch.
Before the Clippers’ NBA Western Conference quarterfinal series against Golden State opened Saturday, oddsshark.com had the Clippers as a plus-8,000 to win the conference and the Warriors at minus-375.
Before Monday’s Game 2 of the series, BetOnline.ag took the Clippers-Warriors series off the board and listed the Warriors as 4-11 odds to win the NBA title.
The Clippers are 1,000-1. Still better than the Lakers.