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

Jul 2, 2010, 10:35 AM EDT

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. Knicks fan - Jul 2, 2010 at 12:54 PM

    lotta should of would of wills out there on winning a championship in all these cities. NY will guarantee more money than any other place he can sign. everything after is speculation. and why is everyone on the Bosh kick, David Lee has virtually the same average numbers as Bosh and would sign for a lot less. NY won’t win next year but who clearly will. NY is on the right path of freeing up money to do so soon

  2. Jim in Auburn - Jul 2, 2010 at 1:03 PM

    He should just play where he is happy. He would make enough money in one season for the rest of his life.
    If I was him, happiness would be valued more than the difference between 100 million and 500 million.

  3. Bob M - Jul 2, 2010 at 1:04 PM

    This is totally sick! An athlete with a high school diploma can earn upwards of a billion dollars bouncing a ball around an indoor court, and a highly skilled brain surgeon or medical research physician is lucky to earn a small fraction of that amount. No wonder the third world hates Americans. We glorify and practically worship athletes while paying them so much money, it’s hard for a common person to figure out how to spend it. Do the math…. 1,000 people earning $60,000.00 per year 15 years, and there would still be $100,000,000.00 left over for college expenses, vacations, medical insurance premiums, and one or two tickets to see an NBA game!

  4. Johnny - Jul 2, 2010 at 1:04 PM

    Powerpoint??? People still use PowerPoint for $1 Billion Dollar meetings?

  5. RH - Jul 2, 2010 at 1:10 PM

    F’ing New Yorks!!!! I hope he doesn’t go there, believe it or not the world does not revolve around New York, I know that it tough to realize for them but my God!!!!

  6. Jazzpa - Jul 2, 2010 at 1:12 PM

    Jordan made more in a year on endorsements than he did his entire career playng ball. The game won’t make him a billion, endorsements might make him 2 billion though!

  7. me - Jul 2, 2010 at 1:14 PM

    Thank you JT…Enslavement for the poor.

  8. markosb - Jul 2, 2010 at 1:15 PM

    Jordan would have made more in this era, he is more marketable than LeBron.

  9. LN - Jul 2, 2010 at 1:18 PM

    Birthplace of Basketball: New York??????
    Wow you people really do have issues, since when if the birthplace of basketball considered NY? Forgot, New Yorkers think that New York is the birthplace of everything, everything and everybody starts with NY, right.

  10. Jeff - Jul 2, 2010 at 1:20 PM

    NY won the WS last year with A-Rod, so yeah, it worked out.

  11. NBAFan1 - Jul 2, 2010 at 1:22 PM

    Until Lebron learns how to win in a pressure situation, he will see no rings.
    He needs to grow up a little too and maybe stick a pin in that head of his to let some of the air out.

  12. wondering - Jul 2, 2010 at 1:27 PM

    TV ratings; he will get more TV rating if he plays for NY, LA, Boston, or Chicago (MIAMI, most watched soccer, maybe basketball do the same). What were the TV ratings when Cleveland and Spurs met in finals? Less than half of this year’s ratings.
    Go figure!

  13. Artie - Jul 2, 2010 at 1:27 PM

    Good for him if he can produce and earn it…Win a championship.
    Good comment by Jeff, LeBron might earn more but is not worth as much as Jordan, ethically or performance wise.

  14. Haha - Jul 2, 2010 at 1:32 PM

    Lebron should come here to SACRAMENTO, CA! Might not get a Billion but hey, its only money! haha, LMAO!

  15. Jean - Jul 2, 2010 at 1:39 PM

    If the club generates higher revenues (tv deals, licensing, stadiu goods, tickets sold) based on a player as Chicago did with Jordan, and Lakers did with Shaq/Kobe, Miami with Wade, Yankees with Arod, ect…. then that player would obviously need to be paid his cut of the generated profits. Isn’t how America works, if you put in the work, and are a direct reason as to why your company generated x-amount of dollars, then by contract (if you signed one that is) you are allowed a cut, so whats the problem with Athletes getting their worth, or should all the money generated go to the club owners ? I highly doubt that.

  16. bevus - Jul 2, 2010 at 1:46 PM

    Yeah, if you want to work for a communist mafia criminal! he , the owner ,, is a egomaniac, anti American idiot, just listen to his interviews, he sounds right out of Eastern Promises!

  17. Jason - Jul 2, 2010 at 1:50 PM

    Awesome and, AWE-SUM (awe = amazing) (sum = total moneys)

  18. Amy - Jul 2, 2010 at 1:50 PM

    I’m with you Johnny! Powerpoint? hahaha

  19. BryanH21 - Jul 2, 2010 at 1:54 PM

    You’re foolish to think LeBron actually wants to play on a team with other super stars. Do you really think he wants to go 7 years with 0 championships and then move to a team surrounded by other stars and win a championship that way? You’re forgetting that humans (not just super stars) are selfish. Besides, a team with super stars would never work. You need one star and 4 roll players. Michael Jordan won 6… how many other “super stars” were on those 6 championship teams? Kobe Bryant has 5… again for all 5 championship teams, he was the star, his team mates were roll players.
    I think the Knicks would be the best choice. They have a few roll players in Lee and Gallinari. They’re also close to landing Stoudemire… another roll player. If they get a decent point guard that would be a team to reckon with. And it’s also a team that LeBron can still call “his” team. Add this with the fact that NY makes the most sense monetarily and I’d say NY is definitely the place to be. I’d use the same argument for Chicago but do you really think he wants to build his legacy in the house that Mike built?

  20. Ryder - Jul 2, 2010 at 1:57 PM

    I have a 2004 Le Bron Rookie of the Month Eastern Conference # 1 of 23 signed by Le Bron if anyone is interested.

  21. Travis W - Jul 2, 2010 at 1:58 PM

    Oh yeah, that’s so true, you know, since LeBron probably has no connections as it is. And if he wants to talk to people in NYC, he can’t use a telephone, or, you know, fly there on his own plane. You’re right…no one starts fashion lines or launches perfume products from anywhere besides NYC. WOW
    LeBron could make a billion in any world class city and a few others besides, but only if he wins multiple championships and is the CENTERPIECE of said championship team. Sorry Miami, an enormous threesome winning championships for y’all would just lead to questions about who gets the credit. It’s not the Olympics, you know.

  22. HBOOGIE - Jul 2, 2010 at 2:00 PM

    People. Stop talking for a moment and think! Michael Jordan was never the highest paid player at any time of his NBA career. As a matter of fact, Jordan was not even in the top 10% of the highest paid in the NBA during his tenure. Who does Lebron idolize, Jordan! Lebron is not concerned about having the largest salary. Jordan consistantly makes Forbes List year after year earning an average of $50 million a year. This is what Lebron is looking for. Lebron needs to to WIN! titles and titles only will determine if he becomes the first NBA player to become a billionare. By the way, no one is talking about the color of red. I know, some of you are not thinking that deeply. Let me explain…the color red is the most marketable color for sneakers and athletic apparal. Red equals Billions. Trust me, the team that lands Lebron will be Chicago or Miami. I would give the edge to Miami, simply because of ownership. Why did Jordan leave Chicago on bad terms? Onwership! Why did Phil Jackson leave Chicago on bad terms? Ownership! Why will Chicago not keep both Derrick Rose and Joaquin Noah after 2years when their contracts are up for renewal. Ownership! Chicago’s ownership has never in its history paid the Salary Cap tax for retaining good players. If ownership of the Chicago Bulls would lie to the Greatest player to ever play the game of basketball, why would they be truthful now. Sounds like fools gold to me. Reinsdorf, the owner of Chicao Bulls, is quoted as saying that “organizations wins championships not players” I just dont see Lebron joining an organiztion that lives by this philosophy. What do you think?

  23. lakerfan - Jul 2, 2010 at 2:01 PM

    I don’t care where Lebron goes because he won’t win a championship until he signs with the Lakers. Say what you want, but the Lakers are the best run team in the NBA. They know how to win and will continue to win for many years to come. Lebron is great during the season, but a failure in the playoffs. Until he wins the big one, no one should refer to him as the ‘King’. That is so ridiculous!

  24. oompaloopma - Jul 2, 2010 at 2:02 PM

    “Air Jordan shoes have consistently been among the best selling basketball shoes since their creation in 1985. The Jordan brand is a household name and people of all ages and social strata line up eagerly for the release of the latest model. Some of this success can be attributed to the fact that the shoes, from the Jordan III to the most recent model, have always started with their namesake, Michael Jordan.” Jordan did not need championships to sell anything he was promoting merchandise way before then. Everyone wanted to be like Mike way before he won his first championship. His Dunk Contests and All Star games really set him apart, and the Nike brand really set itself apart from all other shoes. Luck has a part to do with it.

  25. why-not - Jul 2, 2010 at 2:10 PM

    If Tiger Woods can make $1 doubt LeBron in NY can do it easy..whats to think about?

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