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LeBron James makes foray into the entertainment business

In becoming a global brand, LeBron James has mastered both the court and the conference room.

Source: Audemars Piguet
Source: Audemars Piguet

Having a world-class brand as an athlete is just as important as being a world-class performer. LeBron James has mastered this with with endorsements deals from Nike and McDonald’s as well as two NBA championships and four MVP awards. LeBron is an entrepreneur – he made $30 million from Apple’s acquisition of Beats  – and as with many other athletes, the next stop is entertainment. But instead of starring in a movie, like Shaq in Kazaam or Steel, LeBron is an executive producer of STARZ’s new half-hour comedy Survivor’s RemorseMike O’Malley is the writer and one of the other executive producers along with Tom Werner, Maverick Carter, and Paul Wachter.

Survivor’s Remorse is based around the life of Cam Calloway, played by Jessie T. Usher, who is a basketball wonder kid that signs a multi-million dollar contract and is thrust into the limelight. The series takes place in Atlanta and will be the basketball version of Entourage, where it follows a rising star guided by his cousin and confidant Reggie Vaughn, as well as his sister M-Chuck and Cassie, Cam’s mother. O’Malley was inspired by the lives of LeBron and Carter, who is his childhood friend, confidant, and managerChris Albrecht, the CEO of STARZ, said O’Malley:

“…has infused the world of Survivor’s Remorse with humor and heart. Along with LeBron, Maverick, Tom, and Paul, we really have an all-star team to capture the complexity and comedy inherent to this series.”

The show will be another success for LeBron because of the richness of story material from his personal experiences – he is one of the most-talented but least-loved athletes – and his first-class business team. Werner is the chairman of the Boston Red Sox and Liverpool Football Club and Wachter is a successful financial adviser who has been partners with LeBron, Carter and Werner in the past. Also, Werner has produced 3rd Rock from the Sun, Roseanne, The Cosby Show, and That 70’s Show.

Survivor’s Remorse will most likely result in another trophy for LeBron, but as an Emmy this time. LeBron is as skilled at business and marketing as he is at basketball. Warren Buffet said “He’s savvy. He’s smart about financial matters. It’s amazing to me the maturity he exhibits.” Unlike other athletes who have gone to the entertainment industry, he is using the show to enhance his brand as well as show people what it was like to be and struggle with being “one of the greatest ever” by his early twenties. Look at what Entourage did for Mark Wahlberg.

LeBron knows he cannot play basketball forever and has made all the right moves – besides The Decision 2010 – like investing in Liverpool FC, which finished in second in the English Premier League last season. He is not only a “master brand builder,” but a philanthropist who has generously donated to charities and communities. Forbes magazine recently said “. . . James sets a standard for civic-minded athletes who understand they have responsibilities.”

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