The Cleveland Cavaliers’ LeBron James may rake in more cash than any other NBA endorser, but he’s still not the “global icon” he set out to become 2 years ago. (His jersey is only the third-best seller in the league.) That could change if he wins a ring, writes Advertising Age. “To an extent, championships define athletes," says the CEO of James’ marketing company.
In 2006, James vowed to ride his star to the top with the 2008 Summer Olympics. But his performance in Beijing was overshadowed by Michael Phelps, Kobe Bryant, and China’s hosting controversies. One analyst says the problem may be the highly planned, step-by-step strategy to boost James’ image, which “doesn't quite match the effortless grace of one of his 3-point shots.”