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Opinion: Lebron James revolutionized the player-CEO role in the NBA

Updated on September 19, 2020
Michael Mannen profile image

Writer on Hubpages and Harvard School of Public Health Alum.

Lebron James has changed the NBA both from a basketball and business perspective

Jay-Z is considered by many to be instrumental in taking the role of rapper-ceo to the next level with the contributions he made during his career. Lebron James has altered the game of basketball in a similar manner as Jay-Z.

When Lebron entered the NBA, he was easily the most prodigal high school player from a basketball and business perspective. At the age of 20, one season removed from his rookie year in the NBA, Lebron was already averaging 27.2 PPG, 7.4 RPG, and 7.2 AGP.

Off the court, Lebron quickly built on the legacy of Michael Jordan and Magic Johnson and took the entrepreneurial side of being an athlete to new heights. By the time he was just 18 years old, Lebron had already signed a $90 million-7 year contract with Nike; inflation adjusted in 2019 dollars that is equivalent to approximately $125 million dollars. To put this in perspective, Michael Jordan made roughly $93 million in salary over his NBA career. Arguably, Lebron, before he played a game in the NBA, had already contracts worth more than MJ's entire salary as an NBA player. Lebron really started off above the court.

Like Jordan, Lebron has insisted on taking equity in the companies offering him endorsements. This has allowed him to expand his business empire vastly and to grow with his endorsers. Lebron as a part of his empire has empowered his agent, Rich Paul and friend Maverick Carter.

Off the basketball court, Lebron is a business mogul and estimated by some to be a billionaire. In 2015, James signed a lifetime endorsement deal with Nike worth more than $1 billion. In 2015, it is estimated that LeBron also makes about $55 million per year off the court in endorsements. Lebron has made other notable business involvements including being an owner in Liverpool FC.

Player Empowerment is probably Lebron's greatest legacy in the NBA

When LeBron took his talents to South Beach to create a dynasty with the Miami Heat, he took player empowerment to new heights in the NBA. Furthermore, him bringing his brand and business to LA and the Los Angeles Lakers is just another example of him writing his own history as a player. These moves have undoubtedly embolden other players in their own free agency decisions.

However, as a player Lebron took philanthropy to new heights when he opened the I Promise public school for at-risk children in Akron. So far, through The LeBron James Family Foundation Lebron has agreed to provide 1100 underserved students in Akron with scholarships to the University of Akron. Among his other publicly known donations include $2.5 million to a new Muhammad Ali exhibit at the Smithsonian.

As a player on the basketball court, one distinct aspect of Lebron's career as a player is his longevity. LeBron reportedly spends nearly $1.5 million per year to keep in top physical condition. This has enabled him to break many records set by his predecessors in the NBA. For example, Lebron at age 34 is able to average more PPG, RPG, and APG than when he was 20 years old.

On the basketball court, Lebron was the prototypical and original position-less basketball player. At 6’9’’ 260 lb with point guard skills, Lebron is able to play four positions on the basketball court. Lebron’s combination of athleticism, size, and skill is unparalleled in NBA history. This has set the model and mold for future players like Giannis Antetokounmpo, Kevin Durant, and Ben Simmons.

Future generations of players and fans will continue to appreciate Lebron more over the coming years.

This content is accurate and true to the best of the author’s knowledge and is not meant to substitute for formal and individualized advice from a qualified professional.

© 2019 Michael Mannen

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