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Universities to wear LeBron James gear under sponsorship deal: Miami, UK… and Ohio State

Jul 9, 2011, 1:00 PM EDT

Dallas Mavericks v Miami Heat - Game Six Getty Images

This should go over well.

LeBron James, in his continuing quest to become the most powerful brand in sports, has struck a deal for his Nike brand to sponsor three universities. Players at the University of Miami (the U) will wear the brand, which makes sense, given not only they share of the city with the Heat, but there is closeness with new head coach Jim Larranaga and LeBron’s business manager Maverick Carter. Kentucky will also sport the gear, which again makes sense given James’ closeness with John Calipari (a connection through World Wide Wes) and his frequent stops there during the season.

Oh, and Ohio State will also sport the gear.

…Yeah. From the South Florida Sun-Sentinel:

The University of Miami men’s basketball team will be sporting LeBron James-branded Nike gear this coming season thanks to a sponsorship deal with the Miami Heat superstar, two sources said Friday.

James will also be sponsoring Ohio State and Kentucky.

UM players were told the news by Coach Jim Larranaga on Thursday.

James’ publicist, Keith Estabrook, said he wouldn’t comment on the matter and directed all questions to Nike, which didn’t immediately return an email from the Sun Sentinel.

via LeBron James sponsors Miami Hurricanes: Heat star’s logo will be on men’s basketball team’s gear – South Florida Sun-Sentinel.com.

So The Ohio State University, the most popular university in Ohio, will wear the branded gear of the most hated man in the state, who abandoned his home-state Cavaliers, leading to the longest losing streak in NBA history.

This should go over extremely well.

But it’s a big deal for James’ brand as it attempts to reach the kind of heights it has targeted. That kind of exposure is phenomenal and only makes him more of an icon to the players coming up through those ranks. Still, it’ll be weird for Cavaliers fans in Columbus to realize they’re cheering on young men wearing the mark of the man they so despise.

It’s been a year since The Decision and James is still finding ways to cause outrage in Ohio.

Update:Turns out OSU has had gear which was tied to James since 2007, but this marks the first official branding of their gear under LeBron’s specific brand. HT: NorthCoastKid on Twitter.

  1. secdominance - Jul 9, 2011 at 1:08 PM

    Stay out that man’s money. You’ll ever consider it’s the media who keeps this hatred going and then blames James for it?

  2. bhester1906 - Jul 9, 2011 at 3:03 PM

    Maybe this guy is smarter than we all thought. All this media attention, good or bad, is defintely generating him a great deal of money.

  3. georgeanderson2 - Jul 10, 2011 at 12:38 PM

    Matt Moore, you’re a toolbox for this statement –

    “… who abandoned his home-state Cavaliers…”

    Lebron did not abandon anyone. The Cavs had their most successful years with him. Alot of people got rich because of him, alot of people have great memories of filling up that arena because of him. If you were offered a better opportunity outside of your current blogger title, would you not take it? Would you be abandoning NBC? Maybe you should go back to working for your highschool paper, because you have abandoned them, that is essentially what you’re saying. And if Lebron would have stayed in Cleveland they would have had to let him play until he wanted to walk away,correct? Because Lebron showed “loyalty” ,so he should be able to suit up until his death and collect large dollars because he is “loyal”? Cleveland got lucky in drafting him, if Detroit got that first pick and he left after 7 years, nobody would say anything about him leaving. He is not from Cleveland, he grew up in Ohio, that is the only thing that ties him to Cleveland. Go watch his documentary he didn’t even like Cleveland, it was another world to him. He took what he felt was the best opportunity for him as a professional. Enjoy watching the career of a great player and stop formulating your opinions by watching ESPN talking head shows, think about it for yourself, it might make you a better journalist.

  4. Colin Zvosec - Jul 10, 2011 at 11:31 PM

    Columbus and Cleveland have no connection at all. This isn’t like when James tried to make up some Akron-Cleveland rivalry (Akron is basically a part of Cleveland, and 95% of the people there are Cavs fans).

    Columbus is 4 hours away. No connection. Its like connecting Gainesville and Miami.

  5. ptho16 - Jul 11, 2011 at 10:07 AM

    Pretty sure Ohio State has been wearing the Lebron James brand for a couple of years now anyway.

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