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LeBron James popularity, brand will return with wins

Aug 2, 2010, 2:58 PM EDT

Thumbnail image for lebron_james_arty.jpgWinning cures all ills in sports.

Right now, LeBron James popularity has taken a hit. A Los Angeles based poling company, E-Poll Market Research, released the results of a survey that found his ratings on words like “appeal” and “exciting” dropped by double digits, while his rating on the word “overexposed” was up 26 percent. Amazingly, his poll results for the word “talented” dropped five percent, as if he somehow became a less good player heading to Miami.

Where this matters is in the LeBron James brand — he can’t sell shoes or McDonald’s or anything else well if he is unpopular. Which means he will never be able to sell anything in Cleveland again.

But in the rest of the nation he will, soon enough.

If — and really, when — the Miami Heat start winning as we expect, LeBron’s ratings and brand will return. The drama of “The Decision” will fade. He went to Miami, he took less money, to win, and that kind of commitment to winning is usually applauded in our athletes. When the team starts to win the storyline will be how three great players gave up something to get victories, to go for titles.

I’m not the only person thinking this, SLAM Magazine went and talked to experts about LeBron’s brand.

“I think [his disapproval] is a blip,” said Ed O’Hara, Senior Partner at SME, a brand consultant firm in New York City. “Look, we forgave Tiger Woods, he’s back in action. When LeBron wins, which he will do, his reputation and brand will be galvanized.”

“It’s an international city,” O’Hara said of Miami. “It’s the gateway to America for many countries from the Caribbean rim to South America. Europeans go through there. That’s going to bode well for the Heat brand and for the LeBron brand.”

Titles also mean credibility. Right now, Kobe Bryant is dominating LeBron in the lucrative and growing shoe market in China for a couple of reasons, but a key one is winning. In a culture where winning titles is needed for true athletic validation, Kobe has them and LeBron does not.

For now. But that is going to change in the coming years. And as it does, LeBron’s popularity and brand will be stronger than ever.

  1. kyle b - Aug 2, 2010 at 3:37 PM

    Lebron will bounce back once the season get going. EVery major sports star image has taken a hit at one point. KObe and his rape case, Michael Jordan and Tiger Woods extra-marital affairs. the list goes on and on, but people act like LBJ killed somebody, he left a team for another. lol. Maybe people in Cleveland wont buy his stuff but everywhere else will. Cleveland needs to thank Lebron not despise him. and i guess we shall see a influx in Anderson Verajo jersey sales!!! haha SOrry Cavs back to being the red headed step child of the NBA u go!!!

  2. Mike - Aug 2, 2010 at 3:38 PM

    I’m absolutely sick and tired of LeBron Freakin’ James. He’s a bad person, and while he puts up big numbers, he has no championships and hasn’t really done anything great in the NBA. I hope he retires without ever winning a title. It would serve him right. And I’m not from Ohio.

  3. AZ - Aug 2, 2010 at 3:54 PM

    Rings wont bring maturity to this stupid kid…
    I am not from Cleveland, but no true Athlete will do what LeBron did in the last 2 games against Celtics…
    He is an absolute peice of S#1@ with zero integrity…

  4. kyle b - Aug 2, 2010 at 4:03 PM

    Come on now, he hasnt done anything for the NBA? how about back to back NBA MVP’s, 7-time NBA ALl star just to name a few and you say he hasnt won a championship well he only been in the league 7 yrs. Michael JOrdan didnt win his first championship until his 7th yr in the NBA and if it wasnt for SHaq, Kobe wouldnt have won the the title in the 2000 season. when SHaq left the Lakers KObe and his new squad was horrible until they got Gasol. So what are you gonna have to say when he and Miami keep winning the Finals every yr. Hater be Quiet!

  5. James - Aug 2, 2010 at 4:16 PM

    Any true fan of a non-Miami team has to look at this POS and feel a justified loathing. Look, the guy has talent and ability, but honestly, what has he done? I mean, he gets more press and is regarded higher than Kobe and, while I hate him as a player, Kobe has the hardware to back up all of his talk. LeBron calls himself “the King”. If that were the case, after this many failures of leadership and failed ventures, we should be ready to storm the Bastille and cut off his head. He complains and whines about how his team never got the pieces around him, but did he ever make any of those players better? This is why he went to Miami, so he doesn’t have to be the one to make the team better. Face it, he drank the kool-aid of his own hype and it is time that the NBA start to look for a new darling, because this one showed himself a coward who gives up when the road gets rough.

  6. kyle B - Aug 2, 2010 at 4:27 PM

    HE made every player on that team better, i.e Mo William, Verajao, Anthony Parker, JJ Hickson, he provided every single guy with the best position to make a play and or hit a shot. if they dont knock it down its on them. IF Lebron played with 4 monkeys u would still say well how come he didnt make the monkeys better huh? lol. if u dont have the right team then u just dont have it. No one can do it by themselves not even Kobe. i think it was was 05 or 06 when the Lakers failed to even make the Playoffs, why? cus he had a horible team. the Lakers didnt start winning till they got Bynum Gasol and Odom. dont comment on someone if u dont know the Facts buddy!!

  7. Yosef - Aug 2, 2010 at 4:27 PM

    “Any true fan of a non-Miami team has to look at this POS and feel a justified loathing.” Really? Do they? Just because you’re all butt hurt over Lebron doesn’t mean I have to be.

  8. loungefly - Aug 2, 2010 at 4:37 PM

    You make a great point as did the article. well done! Winning does cure a lot of things.

  9. kyle b - Aug 2, 2010 at 4:49 PM

    appreciate that loungefly!! People in CLeveland seem to forget that Lebron changed everything in that city for the better. He took that team ffrom the worse team in the NBA to one of the best teams. He sold out every game they played in that arena. countless jobs were acquired from him being there. the economy boosted cus of him and now u wanna talk crap on him. If Jesus came to my house for a day and blessed me and then left somewhere else i wouldnt despise him for leaving i would appreciate the time he was here and thats what yall punks in Cleveland should do!!!

  10. pjmjfan - Aug 2, 2010 at 4:56 PM

    “if u dont have the right team then u just dont have it” Did you sleep through the regular season? Hate to break it to you, but the Cavs dominated. OR, maybe you’re like the old SNL “Da Bears” skits. I can hear it now, “Lebron against the entire Eastern Conference, shooting from his Lazy Boy underneath his own basket. Lebron by a landslide with the best record in the NBA!” PLEASE guys! Lebron had a team last year!!! This was NOT about the abilities of his supporting cast.

  11. pjmjfan - Aug 2, 2010 at 5:08 PM

    Kurt, I bet you sleep with a Lebron doll stitched together by yourself. I know, I know. Who am I to talk since I ask my wife to wear a Kobe jersey to bed, right?

  12. pjmjfan - Aug 2, 2010 at 5:10 PM

    Nope, was wide awake.

  13. kyle b - Aug 2, 2010 at 5:12 PM

    thats sad if u bone ur wife with a kobe jersey on, and who is kurt?

  14. Buckeye Pat - Aug 2, 2010 at 5:15 PM

    People in Cleveland need to thank Lebron James? You are not living in reality.
    It’s not what he did, but how he did it.
    People in the entire state of Ohio now hate Lebron. That is never, ever going to change.

  15. pjmjfan - Aug 2, 2010 at 5:19 PM

    Scroll to the top to learn who Kurt is. …ayayay.

  16. The truth is.... - Aug 2, 2010 at 5:29 PM

    LeBron is a cvnt.

  17. tdot11 - Aug 2, 2010 at 8:06 PM

    the fact is Lebron was the man and never got it done. Now we are about to see how the man gets it done in Miami..DWAYNE WADE, give it 3 years and Lebron will be sick of being in Wades shadow and want out.

  18. renee - Aug 2, 2010 at 8:44 PM

    i will never respect bron again

  19. luffy - Aug 2, 2010 at 9:17 PM

    Quit talking coz you’re just making a fool outta yourself idiot!
    Even if LBJ wins championships, 3,4,5,10,whatever? He will never be one of the great ones but a loser in everyone’s eyes outside of Miami, if you have a question ask his Airness MJ and Magic…
    Kobe couldn’t win w/o Shaq? w/o Gasol? WTF? It’s the other way around dumbass! Those centers couldn’t win w/o Kobe. He’s the best right now and next big thing is I don’t who but definitely not LBJ…
    Lastly, If you put Kobe or MJ or Magic or Bird on the Cavs team last year, they could’ve beaten Boston and went to the NBA Finals. If you’re a TRUE Bball fan, you know that calling the team w/the best record in the NBA for 2 consecutive seasons stupid is very STUPID!!!
    And yes, LBJ will top the Jersey sales someday, kid’s would still love him coz they don’t understand the true meaning of competition…

  20. tommygun - Aug 2, 2010 at 10:23 PM

    Lebron had a good team in Cleveland when the Cavaliers won best record in the NBA regular season two years in a row. This talk about him not having the right supporting cast in Cleveland is plain stupid. His problem was simple, “choking” in the playoffs. Big time players play their best basketball during the post season. James just wasn’t that player.

  21. DK - Aug 2, 2010 at 10:26 PM

    great players not only play great, make plays for other team members but also inspire the team members around them to perform out of their skin. At least you can’t put the blame of inspiring his team on Lebron and he was infact done a great job in deflating them. So he can at best be considered great talent with some attitude issues.

  22. Lila - Aug 2, 2010 at 11:59 PM

    You don’t have to be from Ohio to be juvenile – a “bad person”??! Please, you haven’t lived much if you think Bron is a bad person for moving on.

  23. phil collins - Aug 3, 2010 at 12:44 AM

    its not the fact that lebron left for miami that bugs me. the amount that lebron manipulated the free agency process to stroke his ego was unprecedented and sickening to watch. i personally think that his misguided approach stems from a complete lack of self-awareness. i dont know how else he could be surprised by the backlash following that ego-driven circus

  24. andreas - Aug 3, 2010 at 12:56 AM

    Kyle B.
    Your answer is sooo symptomatic.
    You do not care who the players are, what their character is, what they stand for? You really don’t care.
    You just want to win, a good show.
    Now that is great!
    That is the same as Mr. James wants.
    A meeting of the minds.
    We are all winners today.

  25. FROM MIAMI - Aug 3, 2010 at 1:06 AM

    I find you LeBron haters so incredibly funny.
    I have to say that even tho I am a typical Miami fan (I have a life and it doesn’t revolve around any athletes ball sack) I have to laugh at the level of animosity coming from the Lebron haters.
    I get it, you state and city are a cesspool for sporting ineptitude but there is more to life than sports. Lebron jumps high and is great at putting a ball through a hoop THATS IT. If you need some one to carry the banner of your self worth, that life thing… you are doing it wrong.

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