Lebron James' plan to crack China via the Miami Heat
Right next to all those World Cup headlines is another sports headline that has been difficult to ignore. U.S. basketball star and one of the most famous free agents in the NBA, LeBron James (aka “King James” or 小皇帝, "Little Emperor" ), after being heavily courted by teams around the country, chose to play with the Miami Heat.
So what does this have to do with China? A recent piece on Forbes.com says it has everything to do with the Middle Kingdom -- and its huge market.
During this weekend’s Larry King show -- broadcast from Beijing -- sports journalist Stephen Smith announced that LeBron James chose the Miami Heat for two reasons which are closely related: to win championships (LeBron James would be playing with fellow stars Dwyane Wade and Chris Bosh making the Heat’s line-up unstoppable) and to court Chinese basketball fans.
According to Forbes writer Jack Perkowski and his account of the show, Smith explained that “It doesn't matter anymore what city a star like Lebron James plays for, it’s now about China.”
CNBC’s Darren Rovell echos the same sentiment, “It’s clearly not about U.S. market size anymore when you talk about endorsements. Based on the numbers, China, whose 300 million basketball fans almost total the population of the United States, is the most logical place to look.”
According to Terry Rhodes, owner of a marketing firm in Shanghai, Chinese sports fans like winners so joining the strongest team in the country will be the best bet for endearing James to Chinese fans.
Chinese World Cup fans stand aside, looks like Chinese basketball fans -- and the consumer market they bring with them -- are stepping into the spotlight.