Trial balloon comes from ballon d’essai, and it refers to releasing a small ballon before making an ascent to see the direction and the tendencies of the winds. The English language uses it more as a metaphor for business and politics when you casually hint an idea to see the response of the public. For instance, when you say “I’m not running for president” you are actually making people think about it and then gauging their reaction. When done smoothly, you have someone else release your trial balloon to maximize deniability. Preferably a close friend.
Maverick Carter is a member of LeBron’s inner circle. One of his most trusted friends, he takes care of LeBron’s business interests, such as Uninterrupted, Springhill Entertainment (their media company), just to name a few. Maverick is most notable (or maybe notorious) for orchestrating ”The Decision”. While LeBron had every right to choose where wants to play, the way he did it was much criticized.
The inner circle is now more experienced, and since than almost everything they did turn into gold. We already covered some of their moves, such as LeBron’s investment in F.C. Liverpool, but now we got some interesting news. While promoting their upcoming documentary “More than an athlete,” Maverick talked to Rachel Nichols about LeBron and their growth together. At one point, Nichols asked him does he believe LeBron will have a statue in front of the Cavs arena one day:
LeBron is so focused still on playing. He really doesn’t talk about things like that. He talks about the next game, the last game, what’s their season ahead. He doesn’t really start, he hasn’t started to look back at all, not one bit. Every now and again he’d start uttering “when I’m done playing, I’m gonna do this, I’m gonna do that; when I’m done playing I wanna buy a team, when I’m done playing I’d like to own…” But he doesn’t really talk about things like that so, maybe they will, maybe they won’t, you never know. Depend’s on who’s the owner of that time and how they feel. … I think if this team was up for sale, he’d definitely be one of the people who’d look at buying it, for sure.
Did you catch it? This is what you call perfect execution. They were talking about the documentary. The question was about the statue. And the answer was ambiguous, yet specific. He doesn’t really think about it, but when he does, then it’s a maybe, but he would be interested if it were to happen. Trial balloon released!
Of course, there are times when he gets to sit down and think about the future, and while he has a lot of interest in entertainment and other investments, basketball is where LeBron is home. So what’s the logical step? Buying a franchise!! While valuations have gone up, LeBron would have the resources to lead an investment group and purchase a team. The problem is, teams are a very rare commodity and are difficult to buy (just ask Steve Balmer).
If we were to come up with a dream scenario, LeBron owning the Cavs would be movie-like. But is it possible for the league to somehow move pieces around for one of the greatest to own a team in his state? If only there were a precedent for such an event. Now, MJ is not killing it as an owner, but the league has still benefited tremendously keeping him around. The problem here is the current owner. LeBron and Dan Gilbert are at arm’s length on a good day, and Maverick as the man behind “The Decision” isn’t on Gilbert’s speed dial as well.
Funny thing is, Gilbert is actually from Detroit. He lives in Michigan. The Pistons are struggling, didn’t have a significant result in a long time, their new arena is empty, and maybe they’ll be up for sale. I served all the dots, just connect them.
Remember, you don’t just release trial balloons for the audience, you do it to prepare the market and the people involved, soften up everyone involved to the idea you are serving. The final stage of your playing career seems like the perfect place to start, don’t you agree?