Judson Laipply's Blog

My LeBron Thoughts by Judson Laipply

It’s been over a week now and I think I have fully processed my feelings, reactions, thoughts, and musings. I think the easiest way for me to process this all if to try and look at it from each of  LeBron’s different “hats” If we look at LeBron as a company, which he is, he has lots of “hats” to wear just like any other CEO. So let’s have at it.

LeBron as CEO of LeBron Inc

If LeBron is a brand and I think we can all agree that he is then as CEO he wants to increase the value of his brand. He wants to expand his market and raise his products scope. There was a lot of speculation that he would end up in NY for it’s closeness to Madison Avenue, Wall Street, and the overall feeling that movers and shakers must dwell in that city. Not so fast. He made every team come to Cleveland to court him and it is no different or companies or potential business partners. This never played into his decision. He is too much and an icon to matter. I once was on Ellen and one of the other guests on that day was Tiger Woods (Pre-scandal). Tiger was on screen and looked horrible with his two-toned face from playing golf in the sun. It was radioed backstage for the make-up artist to go give Tiger powder during the break to make him look better. When she approached him he simply held his hand out and said “I don’t want any”. The women returned backstage and was screamed at,

“Why didn’t you give him any powder!”

“He didn’t want any! What was I supposed to do? It’s Tiger Woods!”

She was right. This was Tiger Woods and Ellen was glad to have him. If this were anyone else, or 99% of the people who go on any show they would have done whatever was asked of them. Not Tiger, nor LeBron, Kobe, Brad or Angie, Bill Gates, Warren Buffet, and a select other few people. Face it, LeBron is an Icon and as such he never need to worry about where he lives from a business sense. They will come to him.

Note: if you question his move as CEO to have “The Decision” relax, we’ll get to it in the Lebron as a Showman.

LeBron as a Family man:

I can only imagine the conversation he might have had with his GF/Baby momma about where to go. “So which do you think? Cleveland with it’s hard winters, average nightlife, Lake Erie and the occasional High Bacteria days, or Miami with it’s white beaches, beautiful ocean, rocking night life and an average temperature of 70 in the winter?” As if anyone would really choose Cleveland. Plus his kids will get to go to even more high end schools with lots of other famous people’s kids as well. Miami is really a much more attractive option from a family point. People take vacations to Miami not Cleveland. Yeah we have the Rock and Roll Hall of Fame and Cedar Point but let’s not get too excited.

LeBron as an NBA Player

This might have been the most important “hat” that he wore while thinking of his decision. Let’s be realistic, this was all put into motion 3 years ago and we can all speculate what went down but those 3 guys all have been dreaming of this for 3 years. I don’t believe they ever didn’t play to the best of their ability (save for a few games at the end of this season but that is up for interpretation) but LeBron was really the only one who had a decent team that could theoretically win it all. They all agreed to become Free Agents at the same time- for what? If not for this exact scenerio then why?

Pat Riley is a genius. Pure and simple. He is a visionary who looks down the road to see what might be. This is a man who trademarked the phrase “Three-peat” back when he was coaching the Lakers and they won 2 in a row. They didn’t win the 3rd but a few years later the Bulls did it and every piece of clothing, posters, and other trinkets that had “Three-peat!” on it, Riley got paid and will whenever anyone else does too. The man has smarts and he knows that to most NBA players, winning is always better than losing. Last time I checked it was why they played the game. So ask yourself what you would do? Would you go start building a team with 2 other all-stars knowing that players will line up by the dozen to be part of what you are building even if it means taking less money? Or stay on a team that has little options and a few average players? Sure you can say that the Cavs had the best winning record the last 2 seasons but LeBron played a large part of that. Take him away and you have nothing, in Miami take LeBron away and you still have a hell of a good core with Wade and Bosh. Put him back in and now you have you got. It’s scary to think of how good they can really become. As a basketball player who wouldn’t want to do this? Oh that’s right – the Ego driven Dominate Alpha Males? We can say that Jordan, Kobe, Magic, Bird, and all of those would never have would never have done that but can we really say that? They never had an option like this. Time will tell if it was the right move but as a NBA player – this makes complete sense.

LeBron as a Regular Guy

Perhaps the hardest thing to remember is that LeBron, for all his talents and abilities is still just a man. A very large athletic freak of a man but still just a man. He puts on his pants in the morning like we do, drives to work like we do, gets stuck in traffic like we do, gets sick like we do, and ultimately is mortal just like we are. Sure, those pants might costs 5k and he may have someone drive him to work and the traffic might be chopper traffic and he may have a nurse on staff full-time but he is still human and prone to the same range of emotions and feelings we are. I don’t know about you but I like my friends. I like to hang out, play sports, joke around, shoot the breeze, chill, talk about nothing, talk about everything, and sometimes just veg out. So give that Wade and Bosh are 2 of his good friends, and that a man like LeBron has a hard time making new friends (can you imagine what it would be like to have everyone want something from you) it would be natural for him to want to live and play with them. If you could take your current job/profession and get 2 of you really really good friends and keep doing what you are doing but only have the potential to be 10 times as good – wouldn’t you do it?

LeBron as a Showman:

This, of course, is where he fails miserably. I love watching him play basketball. If Jordan was a ballet dancer on the court then LeBron is like a break dancer, tap dancer, and one of those freaks that strikes a pose on one finger – you never know what you are going to see. His size, agility, and closing speed is the perfect combination for at least one “Holy Sh!t” moment per game and things that don’t seem possible. On the court, he is a great showman. Too bad he has no clue how to do it off the court. I hate to admit it but I am not really that upset with him for leaving Cleveland. I get it. If I were in his shoes I would most certainly have done the same. The way he did it is pretty poor. This is where he failed-epic fail. He may go on to win 8-10 championships but no matter what he achieves this is one black mark that will never fade from his public persona. He went on National TV and dissed and entire fan base. Never has an athlete of any sort let down so many people without having a complete scandal.

There really isn’t much else to say about it. I don’t think he deserved the venom that Gilbert spewed after but then again Cleveland didn’t deserve to be treated the way they did either.

Years from now we are only go to remember 2 things about this whole process. One – that Miami managed to assemble and amazing core of 3 young players and Two LeBron’s ill tempted handling of his announcement.

LeBron I will miss watching you play here in Cleveland and as a Cavs fan, I hope you don’t win but part of me can’t wait to see how good Miami might be. In 6 years if you decided to not return to Miami, let’s not have a repeat of what you did this time.

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  1. Hey Jud – long time! I hope you are doing incredibly well. I agree across the board with your analysis. I do think you missed one issue. I am not sure how big a deal it is when you are talking these numbers but tax rates. ZERO in Florida. with 34 million in endorsements another 20 million in salary and you save 3-4 million a year. Enough to take a pay cut and go to a cool city with your boys…

    Comment by Jonathan Schreiber — July 13, 2010 @ 4:34 pm

  2. Good read and fair points made all around. Leborn as a showman is definitely the achilles heel of would could have been a really poignant career with Miami.

    Comment by dMullins — August 17, 2010 @ 2:54 am

  3. Jordan as a ballet dancer :))
    ..I can imagine that

    Comment by zuma — November 11, 2010 @ 12:36 am

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