They say that politics makes for strange bedfellows, but making money brings even stranger pairs together. How do I know this? Because the 27-year-old best player in the NBA who happens to be a multimillionaire, Lebron James, was recently spotted with the 82-year-old multibillionaire, who happens to also be the second richest person in the US, Warren Buffett. Doesn’t that seem like an odd combination?
Lebron James achieved every possible accolade in his profession of basketball this year, including: an Olympic gold medal, an NBA championship and he won MVP. But Lebron James has always had his eye on the bigger picture and a much larger prize. He has always desired to join Michael Schumacher and Tiger Woods in the category of billionaire athlete. He’s currently in the process of putting together a team that will help make that happen.
As far as draft picks go, Warren Buffett definitely makes sense as your number one pick. Recently, Buffett mentioned in an interview with the Miami Herald that he believes Lebron has everything needed to succeed in the boardroom.
“You have to get to know him,” said Buffett. “Lebron’s not initially really talkative. He’s savvy. He’s smart about financial matters. It’s amazing to me the maturity he exhibits. I know that if I had been famous at that age, I would have had trouble keeping my feet on the ground.” (Do you think Buffett has a high vertical leap?)
Lebron still has some big hurdles to jump over, at least from the public relations perspective, because of the decision he made in 2010 where he left the Cleveland Cavaliers and decided to move to Miami instead. Although this decision appears to have been the right one, it made the cities of Miami and Cleveland both look bad, and somehow it even made Lebron James himself look worse.
As far as bank accounts go, his is doing just fine. He brought in $53 million in 2011 according to Forbes, and $40 million of that came in from endorsements. That puts him in fourth place as far as athlete incomes are concerned during the year of 2011. The only people that outdid him were Tiger Woods, Manny Pacquiao and Floyd Maywether.
But it’s a far cry from becoming a billionaire, which is why Warren Buffett and others have come in to lend him a hand. Lebron is looking to maximize his opportunities for sponsorship, and he has his pick of the litter as far as high-profile companies are concerned. Businesses like McDonald’s, Nike, Coca-Cola and Samsung are all interested in his personal endorsement. And why shouldn’t they want it? Everybody looks up to Lebron, and he’ll be a great spokesperson for these companies.
Lebron’s also smart with the way he represents his products. He doesn’t just endorse them, oh know. He always ends up owning a piece of them by entering into partnerships and ownership stakes with all his endorsements. So far he’s done it with bicycles, furniture, headphones and the Liverpool soccer club.
He’s in the right media market by being in Miami, and the sport he’s in has mass appeal. But more importantly than that, he’s now on a winning team and he’s a champion. Winning is a cure for all ills, even those we inflict upon ourselves. Mister Buffett has taught his young and eager apprentice very well.