As LeBron James headed toward the home stretch in his overhyped, over extended and overanalyzed decision as to where he will play, the naysayers will talk more about the losers in the campaigns than the winner, and will it have been worth the fight and the time for the losers, no matter what city they are from.
The answer is not as simple as a yes or no. Like the battle for bids on any level, the messages that need to be sent to constituents, business partners and the public has to be one of activity. Yes, Bulls fans or Nets fans or Knicks fans or heat fans, we are trying to get better...we are trying to do whatever we can and look, we are even in the hunt with this guy.
At a time of year when no media members would be talking about the Nets or the Clippers, the teams were in the casual media mix, and there is no downside to that. The teams had a voice with the media to tell the fans all they could potentially do if they got LeBron... but also what else they are doing around the area to improve their franchise. The dollars invested in those pitches add brand value and extend interest in the team, at least casually. For teams like the Knicks, the front page exposure of New York is immeasurable, and the fact that they, like the Bulls and the Heat, have already added other pieces to the team for 2010 give them talking points and fallback even if James went somewhere else. The Knicks positioned themselves as doing everything in their power to bring the star here and it came down to personal choice... yes or no... an argument that any fan can understand. Even in Cleveland, the hiring of popular Byron Scott as coach will be good news, although the Cavs from a brand value stood to obviously lose the most in this sweepstakes.
In the coming days the spin control for the losers in the battle will also be massive... explaining what plans are post LeBron decision (many teams have already gone that route with other moves) and seeing if the fact that LeBron did not choose their team can even be a rallying cry for the brands and their fans. Will the news cycle die off? Yes. Will teams have to aggressively do some positive spinning and quickly move on with plans? Absolutely.
One thing is for sure. The circus, like it or not, generated great buzz for the NBA at a time of year that is normally dormant, and provided a great bridge from the draft to the upcoming summer league activity for the league. Overkill? Yes in many ways, but we are a society of overkill these days.
As the adage in PR has always been, as long as the name is spelled right any PR is good PR. Maybe in this case, at least for hoops, that is the case. Let the spin game continue.
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