Basketball superstar

LeBron James and Liverpool – key Nike ties and basketball superstar role in kit deal

LeBron James’s name was sometimes prominently featured during Liverpool’s High Court kit trial, but what is the basketball megastar’s connection to the Reds?

Here’s a look at the American sports icon’s connections to Anfield.

Who is LeBron James?

A familiar name and face in the United States – and many other countries where basketball is a major sport – it is somewhat less well known here in the United Kingdom.

While any UK fan who follows their sport will recognize its importance and notoriety, the limited exposure of the NBA (National Basketball Association) action in this country (games are broadcast on select Sky Sports channels) could ensure that if it wasn’t for his height, at 6ft 9in he is probably average height for someone in his profession, maybe he could just walk through Liverpool One without much attention.

Having played in the NBA, which is universally accepted as the elite division of the sport with most of the best players in the world competing in the league, since 2003, James will be 35 on December 30.

Born in Akron, Ohio, he was talented enough to begin his senior career with the local team Cleveland Cavaliers straight out of high school as the first overall pick in the 2003 Draft, skipping the varsity basketball stage that many future pros make. during four years between the 18-22 years.

After seven seasons with the Cavaliers, James became a free agent and announced he would join Miami Heat in a one-off 75-minute TV show called ‘The Decision’ which aired live on ESPN on July 8, 2010 with officials. of Cleveland. informed of the player’s decision a few minutes before the start of the show.

James spent four seasons in Florida and won the first two of his three NBA championships with the Heat in 2012 and 2013.

When his contract expired in 2014, James revealed he would return to Cleveland in a first-person essay in Sports Illustrated magazine.

Although the “Cavs” had the league’s worst record in James’ four-year absence, in his second season he steered them to their very first NBA Championship in 2016.

However, after finishing second to the Golden State Warriors in the NBA Finals in 2015, 2017 and 2018, James “left home” for the second time last year to join the Los Angeles Lakers, who have a reputation for glamor. ‘attract many of basketball’s biggest stars.

Now well into the veteran stage of his career, James, who is currently fourth on the NBA’s all-time career scoring chart, is considered the sport’s all-time best player, a claim that has elicited many comparisons with Michael. Jordan.

How did he get involved with Liverpool?

First of all, James claims to be a longtime admirer of the Reds from afar.

In April 2011, he was invited by Liverpool owners Fenway Sports Group to buy a 2% minority stake in the club worth $ 6.5million, which last year was estimated at around $ 32 million by ESPN.

After acquiring his property, James then made his first trip to Anfield later in November of the same year.

Spending two days at Liverpool, he played in the Reds’ 1-1 draw against fierce rivals Manchester United and described it as “one of the best experiences of my life”, adding: “It comes from the simple fact of passion and loyalty these fans are.

American basketball player LeBron James, minority owner of Anfield, watches before the game between Liverpool and Manchester United in 2011

James was handed his small stake in FSG in exchange for granting the Liverpool owners the right to become his exclusive global marketing representative.

And having witnessed the power of Anfield eight years ago, he has spoken of his desire to play his part in helping Liverpool expand their global appeal and increase their trading income.

He said, “Whenever you have so much history and so much power behind their story, there is great potential to continue that expansion.

“Liverpool are definitely one of those clubs. They really are like Man U – and the Dallas Cowboys and the New York Yankees.

“There are teams and logos that you see, wherever you are in the world, and you know exactly who they are and what they mean. I see Liverpool in this group.

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American basketball player LeBron James, minority shareholder of Liverpool FC, visits the club shop

It was also reported in July this year that James Uninterrupted’s company will be teaming up with Liverpool to bring fans unique content.

Uninterrupted creates original shows and documentaries and has its own podcast network.

Maverick Carter, who is James ‘longtime business partner, verified the Reds’ name when explaining how Uninterrupted was working on plans to grow the brand outside of the United States.

He said: “We are working on several content, documentary and series deals, some with individual players, others with specific teams like Liverpool.”

Why do Liverpool see James as a potentially key figure for them in China?

ECHO’s Jonathan Humphries reported that the High Court had been informed that Liverpool officials saw the possibility of working with James as a major boost in their efforts to tap the Chinese market.

New Balance attorney Daniel Oudkerk QC said the way Nike’s offer was worded did not specifically promise approvals involving James – although he clarified that he was not suggesting that no co-branded deal with the NBA superstar was not possible.

Reading emails sent by Liverpool Commercial Director Billy Hogan, which were to be disclosed to New Balance ahead of trial, he said: “We are specifically looking to derive a major benefit from working with LeBron James because basketball and the NBA are very popular China. “

Another said the club were “very excited” about what they could do with James.

Meanwhile, a fascinating court exchange suggested that the influence of global superstars like James could be a silver bullet to free Liverpool from their New Balance contract.

Jonathan Humphries reported that what initially appeared to be a marginal issue seemed to gain momentum in the final submissions.

Nike’s offer contained a clause that promises marketing initiatives featuring “no less than three global non-football superstars and influencers of the caliber of LeBron James, Serena Williams and Drake.”

Basketball, tennis and rap icons are all signed with Nike – and Liverpool argued that New Balance couldn’t match their marketing might.

The essential news from Liverpool FC

New Balance also promised “global superstars” but did not mention any names in its contract renewal proposal.

The key to the success of this argument is whether the power of the James, Williams or Drake brand counts as a “material, measurable and comparable (MMM) term” in legal jargon.

  • This article first appeared on October 25, 2019

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