For those who haven’t watched at the clip bottom of this post, it’s an interesting piece on Lebron James. The 60 minutes interview was hyped beyond belief, as though some mind melting secret would be revealed, but essentially it tells us nothing we didn’t already know.
1. Lebron James is very good at basketball.
2. Lebron James is very rich.
3. Lebron James wants to be very, very rich.
In many ways James speaks with more passion for his growing business empire than anything else. He may have inherited this drive from Michael Jordan, who was essentially the first model of CEO athlete. But where Jordan was clearly motivated in the business world, it still looked like he had to earn everything he did on the court. James, on the other hand, seems almost resigned to the fact he will succeed in basketball. No wonder he has turned his attention to the more challenging aspects of the business world. This isn’t a judgement of James, just an observation that we may have finally met an athlete who transcends competitiveness on the court merely because he is too good.
His success this year, which has undoubtedly been the result of a harder work ethic (most suggest Kobe turned James on to what real hard work looks like at the Olympics) , seems to me extraordinarly business like. There’s no real fear or desperation here, just an understanding that winning a championship makes good business sense. Of course, give him a few more years without a championship and may be crying to John Thompson, whispering “I’m losing, I’m losing”. But who’s kidding? Cleveland will win it all this year and James can build on the brand.
Is this good for the NBA? Sports generally are more compelling with a hegemonic figure at the top – Tiger Woods has made golf interesting. But let’s hope Dwanye Wade can provide a worthy adversary. Otherwise , like Tiger Woods, we’ll have to be content with James competing against history, seeing how many records of the past he can break. I’m not sure he has that drive , if it doesn’t make for a good business model.
Keep an eye out for the half court shot:[youtube:http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=yh6vfS1L0e4%5D