King James in Hollywood…Not Likely
No I’m not talking about LeBron playing for the Lakers, but that other Los Angeles team, the Clippers, if you forgot they existed. The New York Post and ESPN recently reported that David Geffen, the billionaire entertainment mogul, wants to buy a controlling share in the Clippers. More importantly, Geffen told current owner Donald Sterling that he could deliver LeBron to Lala land if he was running things.
Meanwhile, LeBron was invited to watch Game 2 of the Lakers-Celtics NBA Finals in Geffen’s seats, but declined the invitation. Instead, LeBron’s close friend and partner, Maverick Carter, did attend the game with Geffen. Although he opted not to attend the game, James spent the weekend in Los Angeles with Carter. ESPN reported that a source confirmed that Geffen’s interest in purchasing the team is one of the reasons James and Carter were out west. Teams are not allowed to contact players under contract until free agency begins July 1, and the league has already fined Mark Cuban $100,000, and two other teams for making comments about LeBron. But Geffen is not an owner of any percentage of the Clippers or any other team, and can discuss LeBron’s potential future as a Los Angeles Clipper as much as he’d like without fear of discipline by Commissioner David Stern. SportsAgentBlog.com has previously reported on the future of James’ career and the people surrounding his decision-making. Obviously Leon Rose, Lebron’s agent at CAA, will play a large part in brokering LeBron’s return to Cleveland or move to another city. Likewise, Darren has mentioned the speculation of the behind-the-scenes role that Worldwide Wes (William Wesley) plays in LeBron’s career. However, LeBron’s L.A. travel companion, Carter, will likely play one of the most important, if not the largest role in James’ decision on where to play next year.
Rose is LeBron’s registered NBA agent, but only represents James in his player contract negotiations. LeBron is a self-made businessman in all other respects, and Maverick Carter is James’ partner and CEO of LRMR, the marketing agency started by the two to manage the marketing deals of LeBron and other athletes. According to Sports Illustrated’s “The Fortunate 50”, two-thirds of his $42 million in earnings in 2009 came from endorsements. It would be fair to say that Carter’s role as James’ de facto marketing agent puts him in a position of power, as James’ decision will undoubtedly be affected by his endorsers, especially Nike. I agree with ESPN’s Skip Bayless, who recently commented on an ESPN program that Maverick Carter was the most influential member of LeBron’s team. Like the possibilities in of James playing in the city that never sleeps, I’m sure that potential for James to play in Tinsel Town has been talked about in the board rooms of his endorsers.
The allure of playing in Los Angeles might be intriguing to LeBron James. He would be playing in arguably the best sports city in the country, and won’t have to play in the house that Jordan built, or for the Knicks or Nets, neither of whom have even had the chance to lose a playoff game, much less win one in years. While Kobe Bryant seems to be getting better every year, he is certainly inching closer to the end of his already 14-year career. LeBron could really bring the Clippers out from under the shadow of the Lakers, and truly reign as the King of Los Angeles. He would also be surrounded by the likes of Blake Griffin and Eric Gordon, which reads like a Championship-winning caliber team. If anyone has the wallet to buy the Clippers its Geffen, whose net worth is estimated at $4.6 billion by Forbes, but current Clippers owner Donald Sterling has insisted as he has many times before that he is not interested in selling the team. In the end, a LeBron-Geffen Clippers may be just another California dream. Until free agency starts on July 1, it will remain as one of the many rumors surrounding LeBron James and those that influence his decisions.