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Knicks pitch to LeBron: You could make $1 billion playing here

Jul 2, 2010, 10:35 AM EST

Thumbnail image for LeBron_solo.jpgFor months, marketing experts have been saying, “It doesn’t matter where LeBron James plays, he makes the same money anywhere, he is a brand unto himself.”

The focus of the New York Knicks’ pitch to LeBron yesterday (and a specially prepared report for the meeting): Hell yes it matters. Forbes got a hold of the PowerPoint that says, basically, you can only make $1 billion in New York. And you want to make $1 billion, don’t you? You are not going to make that in Miami and Cleveland, and probably not in Chicago. Why? Because we’re New York.

To come up with the numbers for the Knicks, Interbrand says it ran through 50,000 computer models of a potential LeBron career, using more than 200 variables like individual performance, fan demographics and championships. The report is light on the details of its methodology, but comes to this conclusion: LeBron has a 50% chance of earning at least $1 billion in New York. In Cleveland and Chicago the odds fall to 1%. The study put a 0% chance of LeBron making $1 billion playing for Miami.

Sound fishy to you? It does to CNBC’s sports business reporter Darren Rovell as well, as he tweeted:

Knicks tell LeBron he can earn $1B+ by going to NY. What it proves? Pay a firm (InterBrand) enough $, they’ll justify a #.

Key to the bogus InterBrand LeBron study? They ASSUME he’ll play for the Knicks for the next 13 years.

It may have sounded fishy to LeBron as well. The most connected reporter in Cleveland, Brian Windhorst of the Plain Dealer, tweeted this:

Here’s what I hear from yesterday: LeBron interested in Nets pitch but not so much NY. NY trying at moment to secure Amare’ to help cause

Here’s the thing — where LeBron can make the most money is shoe deals, particularly his international Nike deal in places like China. He gets a piece of the pie, but that only matters if you sell a lot of shoes. In China and Chinese culture, titles matter. That is why Kobe is crushing him in sales oversees (plus Kobe’s whole marketing plan in China, which includes his own China foundation that does charitable work in the country, spreading good will).

James becomes more marketable, sells more gear, makes more money when he wins it all. And where can he best do that… Don’t think the PowerPoint covers that.

  1. jason - Jul 2, 2010 at 10:49 AM

    Marketers and consultants are both known for making s**t up to back up their existing stances. Now a marketing consultant? There’s a whole lot of BS.

  2. Chris Fiorentino - Jul 2, 2010 at 10:49 AM

    “The study put a 0% chance of LeBron making $1 billion playing for Miami.”
    This is just ludicrous. If Bosh and LeBron sign with Miami, they could easily win 2 or 3 championships in the next 6 years. That would trump whatever stupid marketing strategy that powerpoint presentation said.
    I think the best move for both Bosh and LeBron is to sign with Miami. Create a mega-team. Possibly…create a dynasty. Picture the 2008 Celtics with younger better players.

  3. JAY - Jul 2, 2010 at 10:58 AM

    forget about the money, he’ll reach aBillion within the next ten years no matter which team signs him – He’s not a Businessman.. He’s A Business , Maaan !

  4. Allendroth - Jul 2, 2010 at 11:05 AM

    Lets simplify here. LeBron isnt the only player in this free agent race that can bring a ring to a city. The right move is for him to stay in Cleveland under their new coach and honor the most loyal fan base he will ever have. Wade should help Miami get a damn center by staying on their roster and as for Bosh? He needs a new team. A real loss for the race is Joe Johnson getting max pay. He’d be crazy to leave the Hawks now and he would have been a great player for quite a few teams.

  5. realist - Jul 2, 2010 at 11:09 AM

    No way he’d make a billion in Miami my friend. No player in Miami would ever come close to that. You do realize Miami is the most fair weather fan city in the country. The don’t even sell out playoff games. There is no money down here.

  6. Allendroth - Jul 2, 2010 at 11:19 AM

    I can verify that last comment from “realist.” I live in Miami. Its a sad sad sad fan base down here. No player can make that kind of money in this place. Another reason LeBron needs to stay in Cleveland. If he shows loyalty to his home town now, when he could go anywhere, imagine how much more worth the Cavs dynasty would have if he lead them to a ring in the next 2 years. That is where you can become a real sports hero. It takes risk and belief in your team. Miami lacks in both of those. (Go Heat btw!)

  7. Allendroth - Jul 2, 2010 at 11:21 AM

    I can verify that last comment from “realist.” I live in Miami. Its a sad sad sad fan base down here. No player can make that kind of money in this place. Another reason LeBron needs to stay in Cleveland. If he shows loyalty to his home town now, when he could go anywhere, imagine how much more worth the Cavs dynasty would have if he lead them to a ring in the next 2 years. That is where you can become a real sports hero. It takes risk and belief in your team. Miami lacks in both of those. (Go Heat btw!)

  8. Chris Fiorentino - Jul 2, 2010 at 11:25 AM

    In response to the guys responding to my post, I’ll make it clear that of course LeBron won’t make a billion dollars playing for Miami…he won’t make a billion dollars playing for ANY TEAM. It is himself as a brand name that will make the money. Before Jordan joined the Bulls, were they anything special? Not really. When he was there, they were the biggest team in professional sports. Why? Not just because he was Jordan, but because they won 6 titles. If LeBron goes to Miami with Wade and Bosh, they will win multiple championships and the money will come, not from Miami, but from the WORLD. That’s the sham of the whole “powerpoint presentation”…LeBron will make more money with CHAMPIONSHIPS…NOT THE PLACE HE PLAYS!!!!

  9. willistyle - Jul 2, 2010 at 11:34 AM

    No matter where LeBron ends up, my monsy says that he will still be fishing in June and watching El Kobe Cinco, pick up number 6! Kobe is king of the Gym!

  10. Niv - Jul 2, 2010 at 11:45 AM

    There is no denying Lebron will make his money and lots of it, wherever he goes! However, being in NYC, he will make tons more! If he wins a championship in NYC he will make even more. Imagine if Michael Jordan called the garden home? He would of definitely have made more. NYC is the world stage! Its a global city. its the home of the United Nations, Center of commerce, Fashion, Marketing etc..It has the highest percentage of Billionaires calling NYC their home. Lebron has the chance to rub elbows with the worlds movers and shakers in a daily basis with potential to make business deals for himself. If he wants a clothing brand and perfume business, he would be in the right place. What ever he wishes to do, He could do it because he has the name and the talent and calling NYC his home would give him even greater exposure in the global stage. If you listen the languages spoken in the Garden, you’ll hear many different languages.. Many of it is European!. NYC is the #1 tourist destination… Etc. Folks, its the real exposure actually being in Gotham that would tuly make King James a Global Icon and the Master of the Universe. Lets hope he becomes the King of New York.

  11. Jitesh Patel - Jul 2, 2010 at 11:45 AM

    LEBRON SHOULD SIGN IN NEW YORK AND PLAY ALONGSIDE AMARE MAN WOULD THAT BE AN AWESOME ONE TO PUNCH BOTH PLAYERS CAN GO TO THE BASKET WITH TREMENDOUS FORCE LIKE NO OTHER IN THE LEAGUE I KNOW LEBRON AND AMARE COULD WIN TOGETHER THATS NOT A QUESTION, LETS FACE IT IF LEBRON GOES TO CHICAGO OR STAYS WITH CLEVELAND WHICH I DON’T THINK HE WILL HE STILL HAS A SLIM CHANCE OF REACHING THE FINALS AND EVEN IF HE PLAYS FOR THE BULLS AND REACHES THE 2011 NBA FINALS I REALLY DOUBT THEY CAN BEAT THE LAKERS MIAMI WOULD BE LEBRONS BEST CHANCE TO REACH THE FINALS AND WIN BUT IF LEBRON WANTS TO BE FOREVER KING THEN HE WILL HAVE TO PLAY IN NEW YORK OR NEWARK’ WITH THE NETS HE WILL EVENTUALLY WIN A TITLE BUT NO ONE CAN SURPASS MICHAEL JORDAN JUST CREATE YOUR OWN LEGACY

  12. ron - Jul 2, 2010 at 11:45 AM

    would you please stop talking about lebron, bosh and wade playing in miami. he is not going to play for 14 million a year and let gay, and johnson make 8 million more. use some common sense already. this is complete mental masturbation.

  13. James A Hoffman LMT - Jul 2, 2010 at 12:08 PM

    It is far past time for these athletes to get reasonable on what they are “worth.” NO athlete, no movie star, or any other celebrity is worth that kind of money.

  14. netbob - Jul 2, 2010 at 12:08 PM

    Sorry LeBron fans. He choked when his team needed him most. It really doesn’t matter where he plays as he will be fishing in June. If he really really wants a championship, he’ll get on the phone to Kobe and say “Dude, I want a ring. What do I need to do?”

  15. Jeff - Jul 2, 2010 at 12:16 PM

    So Michael Jordan playing now wouldn’t make a billion dollars in Chicago???? This is a load of BS! Lebron will make whatever he wants wherever he plays if he wins championships! Best option he has is to play in Chicago!

  16. Brad - Jul 2, 2010 at 12:19 PM

    I’d have more respect for pro athletes if they took less money. You never hear golfers complain about wanting to make more money.

  17. Jt - Jul 2, 2010 at 12:20 PM

    It’s not wroth living in this society unless you’re famous. We’re all slaves to the rich.

  18. Matthew - Jul 2, 2010 at 12:22 PM

    Yeah, NY worked out sooooo great for A-Rod.

  19. MKHADER - Jul 2, 2010 at 12:22 PM

    CAN MAKE BILLION WITH kNICKS, BUT NO RING.

  20. Saleen5 - Jul 2, 2010 at 12:28 PM

    ha.. i agree with willistyle…it dont matter where lebron “no mvp” james goes…he still wont win any championship with miami..chicago..nor the knicks..he will just be sitting back in his couch watching kobe tear up the courts winning his #6 and selling more KOBE shoes…Now thats a REAL MVP!!!

  21. sdot - Jul 2, 2010 at 12:31 PM

    Having LeBron, Wade and Bosh on the same team is ridiculous and 95% of all NBA analysts think so too. LeBron and Wade are both go to players. If they are both on the same team one would have to basically accept a secondary role, which I’m not sure either would want to. The experiment might work for a little while but in the long run. Plus the fact that Bosh is selfish. If you heard him in his interview, he wants to be the main guy, he refuses to be someones sidekick. If he goes to Miami he would be the third option which most likely won’t work.
    And just a few questions to help you realize why New York is the easiest place for him to make a billion:
    Where is the capitol of the world: New York
    Where do you have the largest media market in the US: New York
    Considered the birthplace of basketball: New York
    What is considered the “World’s Most Famous Arena”: Madison Square Garden

  22. Evan - Jul 2, 2010 at 12:33 PM

    Jordan made a $1 billion in Chicago…it doesn’t matter where you are, it matters who you are.

  23. Tim - Jul 2, 2010 at 12:43 PM

    I agree! Tell Michael Jordan there is no money to be made playing for the Bulls in Chicago.

  24. leprechaun1230 - Jul 2, 2010 at 12:44 PM

    You CAN make a ton of money in Miami. Look at Dan Marino. He is a legend down here, with highways named after him, and so on. He puts his name on all sorts of things, branding them with Dan Marino this or that, and makes a fortune. James can come down here, turn the Heat into a powerhouse, and he will do the same. Miami, South Florida would welcome him with open arms… PLUS, it never snows down here.

  25. Arin - Jul 2, 2010 at 12:50 PM

    The overall issue overlooked here is that LeBronze will never win as many titles as his potential would allow because he is more interested in becoming a billionaire than becoming the best baller. He is not playing with the national team this summer because his business interests don’t afford him the time. What does that do for his game? With all the money this guy has ALREADY made, why is he so interested in becoming a billionaire? What does $1B buy that $200M does not? I’m sure some things but do you really need/want all that. Mo Money, Mo Problems, Less Rings dork!
    Kobe Diem 24/7

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