LeBron’s statement and tweet about Morey damaged his “More than an athlete” brand, something very important to his financial success. LeBron doesn’t just market his products for their quality, but as an extension of him as a person. The focus of player empowerment is that with the internet and social media, we get to know the players and like who they are as people.
Max Kellerman calling LeBron a sellout on First Take became the most upvoted post in NBA Reddit history. This tells you all you need to know about LeBron’s current public image. The whole thing started because LeBron didn’t want to lose the Chinese market, but it seems he is feeling the consequences on the US one.
The average ticket price for the Warriors at Staples (10/14/2019) was $444. This game was hours before LeBron made the tweet about Morey. The game two days ago had an average ticket price of $398. That is a decrease of 10.32% on the ticket price.
The tweet wasn’t the only cause of this. It was another preseason game, again against the Warriors, and that has to be taken into account. Laker games will be sold out through the season for sure, but it’s a beautiful metaphor that this situation made people in the US aware of what China is trying to do.
In the aftermath, journalists have reported lists of companies that acquiesced to China and made compromises on freedom of speech and other essential values not to get kicked out of the Chinese market. China is effectively exporting its political system by leveraging its economic power. They are not trying to control what happens in China, but influence behavior outside of it.
People noticed, and LeBron and the NBA need to pick between losing some China business or USA business. It shouldn’t be a difficult decision.