Why NY beats Cleveland

4 02 2010

For nearly a year, we’ve heard varying arguments for why LeBron James should stay in Cleveland or go to New York once he becomes a free agent. The pro-New York arguments claim that ‘Bron could make more money and expand his brand since New York would provide him a larger stage. (New York City is clearly our nation’s largest media market while the Cleveland-Akron area comes in at 18.)

The pro-Cleveland arguments cite ‘Bron’s loyalty to his hometown (he grew up in Akron) as well as the belief that in our high-tech, social media-savvy era, a superstar athlete like ‘Bron wouldn’t gain that much more popularity by playing in New York rather than Cleveland. But has anyone taken the time to explain why that theory might not be true? I will, and I’m glad I’m here to make Cleveland sports fans more disgruntled and insecure than they already are.

Let’s first take a gander at the NBA’s top selling jerseys. The NBA reported a couple weeks ago that Kobe Bryant had the top selling jersey at the NBA Store on Fifth Avenue and on NBA.com for the second consecutive season. LeBron came in second, again. Not to knock my boy Kobe, but ‘Bron would be the leading jersey if he played for the Knicks. There’s a reason Kobe ranked first, and it’s not just because the Lakers are the defending NBA champions. He plays in Los Angeles, home to the country’s second largest media market. Angelinos swear by him because he’s one of the biggest stars in a city full of them. LeBron would have the same sort of popularity in New York. ‘James 23’ on a Knicks blue and orange uniform would look positively orgasmic to any Knicks fan. And think of how many casual basketball fans in the New York area would suddenly become Knicks followers if the game’s best (or second best) player joined the team.

You might be thinking to yourself, “Moving from second to first on NBA jerseys sold through only the NBA Store and NBA.com isn’t that big of a deal, you idiot.” You’re right. So let’s consider Times Square. According to the Times Square Alliance’s 2008 Annual Report, nearly 500,000 people entered Times Square during a typical Spring day by way of foot, bus or vehicle. That’s more than Cleveland’s entire city population, according to the 2000 U.S. census. Furthermore, the U.S. Census Bureau estimated that just under 2.1 million people lived in Cleveland’s metro area in 2009. According to the study, only two metro areas in the country lost more residents than Greater Cleveland since 2000. Meanwhile, New York City, home to 8.3 million people according to 2008 U.S. census estimates, remains the center of the country’s media attention.

Think of all the times per day a major TV network displays a shot of Times Square. The Today Show, ESPN’s NBA studio show, nearly any program on CNN or FOX News. The amount of eyes on Times Square isn’t confined to just people who are physically in New York. The square has open access to people all over the country — and the world. Now imagine Nike buying a huge LeBron billboard with him sporting his new Knicks jersey. This isn’t to diminish his past and current presence in the square or any other part of the city. But there is no doubt that Nike, the NBA and the Knicks would make LeBron a prominent part of Times Square, not to mention other advertising spots around the city. There’s a lot more attention focused on New York, and the city offers a hell of a lot more unique advertising opportunities than does Cleveland. And with ‘Bron officially a New York athlete, there would be more incentive to focus on him than to let the Kobe Bryants and Peyton Mannings of the world shine in the country’s largest market. Cleveland sports fans have to understand that LeBron has outgrown their city. He needs the primetime spotlight of New York.

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2 responses

4 02 2010
Page Seven

I think we have a good shot at taking him from the Cavs, but there’s a few variables, such as:

1) What happens this season. If the Cavs beat your Lakers in the finals, does that make L:eBron more or less likely to leave? Probably less.

2) If we can get someone else. Right now we have nothing, absolutely nothing to offer as selling points for the Knicks other than what you mentioned, which I just don’t see being enough. “Hey, it’s New York!” Is not going to be what brings him here. We need to add some high quality players for him to play with.

24 03 2010
LeBron already in NYC « KyleStack.com

[…] wrote last month that LeBron could enhance his marketability by moving to New York City and I cited an increased […]

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