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King James: Global Brand

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LeBron James has won two straight NBA titles with the Miami Heat. He is a four-time league MVP (and only the second to win it four times in five years), was the only player in the league to lead his team in scoring, rebounding and assists last year (he fell just one vote short of becoming the first ever to win the MVP with a unanimous vote) and is the youngest player to reach 20,000 points.

He is considered by many as the best player in the game today, and one of the greatest ever to play. And as dominant as he is on the basketball court, he’s just as successful off of it.

The NBA recently announced that, for the first time, LeBron has the NBA’s most popular jersey in worldwide sales. According to a recent report in Forbes, LeBron has the most popular sneaker in the NBA, “outselling his nearest rival’s signature sneakers 6-to-1.” (Nike recently debuted LeBron’s eleventh signature shoe, The LeBron 11.) His popularity extends into fields unrelated to sports. He’s currently producing a comedy series for the Starz Network, and he has hosted “Saturday Night Live.” James, an avid user of social media, has over 15 million Facebook “likes” and over 10 million followers on Twitter.

LeBron’s popularity has translated into runaway success in the business world: James has partnership and endorsement deals with many brands, from Coca-Cola to McDonald’s to Audemars Piguet. Forbes recently ranked James as the fourth-highest earning athlete in the world (behind Tiger Woods, Roger Federer and Kobe Bryant), while estimating James’ endorsement income around $42 million a year. If that’s accurate, that would make him the NBA’s endorsement leader.

As James recently told Rachel Nichols on CNN’s “Unguarded,” as they accompanied him on a Nike promotional trip to China …

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