"How did you feel about LeBron picking last night, the weekend of when his movie came out, to finally go see his alleged close buddy play in person?" asked Bill Simmons on the latest episode of his podcast. "It's the most predictable thing ever." answered his buddy and regular guest on the pod Joe House. Simmons added that LeBron was at a WNBA game earlier in the playoffs and didn't show up to a Clippers-Suns game, implying the only reason James was there to boost Space Jam 2, not to support Chris Paul. That's not true. LeBron was also there to promote his new tequila.
It's perfectly fine for athletes to leverage their fame into promoting business deals and products. We are aware that in (particularly Adam Silver's) NBA, superstars can get away with stuff others don't. The thing is, under David Stern, players understood that they shouldn't broadcast the preferential treatment they are getting every chance possible.
LeBron comes in to support his friend Chris Paul, and he brings a full bottle of tequila and sticks it under his chair for promotional purposes. How many people are getting away with bringing [a full bottle of tequila]? Remember a few years ago when he brought a glass of wine?
Brian Windhorst, The Lowe Post
Not a lot get away with it, and LeBron is one of them. The primary idea behind this was to get a lot of coverage, and I'm sure LeBron's new tequila business has been getting a lot of clicks on Google. So, from that perspective, mission accomplished. Fans have noticed. While this was good for LeBron and his business venture, it keeps ruining the respect and trust in the NBA.
LeBron's response explains everything. "They let me? Let's go with that." The message is clear - Adam Silver doesn't get to tell LeBron he has to follow the rules. Silver is The Commissioner, but LeBron is The King. So when LeBron feels forgotten and has a dramatic tweet about injuries, Michelle Roberts was more than right to drop the hammer on The King.
That's the thing that comes with player power. We know you have it, and you can't pick and choose. Want to get away with promoting your new tequila? Cool. But then don't pretend you couldn't have called Adam Silver and say, "I'm not showing up until January." You can't have it both ways - heavy is the head that wears the crown.
When it comes to the league, nothing can surprise us anymore. James Harden broke COVID protocol and basically got a slap on the wrist. Kyrie Irving has been mocking the media and failing to fulfill his contractual duties for years now, and Irving paid a fine he makes in 15 seconds. LeBron brings booze and makes fun of the fact he doesn't have to get permission for anything, no consequences. This seems to be the league Adam Silver is OK with.
These are all small things that will culminate in more stars taking a few weeks off during the regular season, sitting out important games, and having double standards on issues depending on their financial interests. Just don't mention all these when looking at the ratings drop the league is facing for years now. Let's keep blaming Netflix and Fortnite for that.
P.S. After the failed "Taco Tuesday" gimmick, I guess we'll be hearing about BYOT until LeBron fails to copyright/trademark it.
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