HoopsHype Business rumors

October 13, 2014 Updates
October 11, 2014 Updates

The National Basketball Association, which recently inked a lucrative media rights deal, will increase its marketing budget as it looks to lure more casual fans, according to the league's new chief marketing officer. Some of the new spending will back the league's season-long campaign, which debuts Saturday and will run on a broader set of networks than in years past, said CMO Pam El, who joined the NBA in August after stints at insurance companies State Farm and Nationwide. "We are going to be much more aggressive with our marketing. We want to go after a larger fan base," she said in an interview. Advertising Age

October 9, 2014 Updates

Consider that O’Neal, 42, earned more than $21 million last year through his many business partnerships and his TV work, his management team said. And while several retired athletes make more — Michael Jordan collected $90 million last year, according to a recent survey by Forbes — few can seemingly compete with the volume and variety of O’Neal products. Representatives from 19 companies showed up for the Shaq Summit. Shaq knows that it might seem like a lot of Shaq, except that he says he turns companies down. His name goes only on things that he likes, he said. Such as his Dunkman backpacks. And his soon-to-be-released line of Capelli slippers. And all four flavors of Soda Shaq. New York Times

October 8, 2014 Updates

Forbes estimates LeBron James has replaced Tiger Woods as the athlete with the top brand value. The magazine said Tuesday the brand of the Cleveland Cavaliers star is worth $37 million — the amount his endorsement and nonbasketball earnings exceed the average of the NBA's top 10. Woods had topped athletes on Forbes' Fab 40 list each year since 2007. Nike is estimated to be the most valuable sports business brand, with its worth pegged at $19 billion. Forbes said the value of the name increases Nike's worth from $52 billion to $71 billion. Associated Press

Some say winning fixes everything. For James that seemed to be the case. The more he won, the more marketable he became. He was no longer the villain, and he was about to take control of how he was portrayed off the court. LeBron, Maverick Carter and LRMR have been highly engaged with the development of LeBron’s most recent marketing campaigns. As pointed out by Michael Wilbon, LeBron has used non-traditional marketing channels for his brand activations. For Champs, James has a digital media-only deal. His Dunkin Donuts campaign aired only in Asia. James was also extremely involved with the production of his Beats By Dre commercial. The Fields of Green

James and LRMR understand that the marketplace is shifting. It is no longer enough to star in a television commercial during the Super Bowl. Athletes must engage consumers in myriad ways: digital and social media, streaming content and athlete-to-fan interaction. The fact that LRMR has recognized and succeeded in this space provides more value to LeBron’s partners. All of these endorsements have added up for LeBron, and this is likely just the beginning. LeBron heading back to Cleveland makes him even more likable. James already has deals with Nike, McDonalds, Samsung, Beats by Dre, Dunkin Donuts and Audemars Piguet watches, and he is in position to add more if he chooses. With Maverick Carter at his side, we know that whatever LeBron chooses will align with his marketing strategy. The Fields of Green

October 7, 2014 Updates

Based on one team's estimates, James could earn $28 million as a free agent in 2016—a 36 percent leap from his current salary. Assuming a four-year deal with maximum raises, James would earn an NBA-record $34 million in the final season, the most any player has earned in the max-contract era. Michael Jordan made a record $33 million in 1997-98, the season before the NBA capped individual salaries. Bleacher Report

Although the players' share of revenue has gone down, their actual earnings are about to spike dramatically, thanks to the new infusion of TV dollars. The average salary, currently $5.5 million, could leap to about $7.3 million in 2016, according to team executives. Bleacher Report

And the riches could be spread far and wide, as the salary cap surges from $63 million this season to a projected $84.4 million in 2016-17. Every team in the league could be under the cap in two years (even the spend-happy Nets), creating a cash surplus that—under the NBA's system—must be spent on players. Bleacher Report

The current collective bargaining agreement actually runs through 2021, but either side can opt out in 2017, and the players are almost certain to do so, for obvious reasons: 1. The union made massive financial concessions in 2011, giving up $300 million a year. 2. The new TV deal, as James indicated, removes the NBA's rationale for those concessions. "I think it's a pretty good bet, based on both of those things," that the players will opt out, Michele Roberts, the union's new executive director, told Bleacher Report in a recent interview. She added, "It would be silly for anyone to assume" otherwise. Bleacher Report

Roberts made that prediction before the new TV deal was completed, but both sides have long known that the huge revenue spike was coming and that it would prompt a reassessment of the labor deal. Indeed, Roberts said, "The minute I was told I was selected to be the executive director (in July), I started preparing for the opt-out." Bleacher Report

Any rumor missing? E-mail us at   hoopshype@hoopshype.com.