King James May Have Sold His Future Into Slavery

By Gregory Moore
Updated: May 12, 2005

LeBron James is poised to be the next major ‘brand’ in the Nike fold but is his firing of agent Aaron Goodwin in favor of his friends a good move or corporate slavery?

SAN ANTONIO � LeBron James has every right to fire his agent of two years but I am really questioning whether King James understands what is going on here. I question his move because what I have going on in my head is a nightmare of massive proportions. Picture this if you will: James is in a large auditorium with a giant screen going on. In front of him he sees thousands of mindless, faceless individuals dressed in various athletic attire. Every sport is represented in that room. As he we walks down to his seat on the stage, behind him gray silhouette appears in a three dimensional fashion. As James sits down the image behind him moves and a loud booming voice suddenly appears from the speakers saying, �the world of sports agents as we know it are over. The swoosh is the essence of all being for the superstar athlete�.

Okay maybe my adaptation of George Orwell�s �1984� is histrionic in nature but I cannot understand why James wants to replace Aaron Goodwin, an agent that has brought him the justly riches that he deserves. I question this move because it wasn�t too long ago that James seemed to be perfectly happy with the work that Goodwin had done so far in his career. And that feeling seemed mutual when Dime magazine did a quick vignette on Goodwin, Goodwin was quick to point out that it was James� decision to have him as his agent. That was indeed a wise decision on James� part.

Goodwin had done right by James and nobody in James� posse can say otherwise. In the Dime story �10 Sense�, Goodwin laid out to the readers why he wanted to make James a household name. For those who didn�t read that piece, here is the quote I am referring to: �The final decision to choose me was LeBron�s. I think he respected me as a man. I made it clear that I knew that he would special to my company and me. We wanted to make LeBron even bigger than what other people were telling him. While other agencies were saying he could have a twenty or twenty-five million dollar shoe contract, I was saying from day one that he could have a seventy-five or one hundred million dollar shoe contract. I was honest with him. Where others came in offering gifts, I came in offering dreams.�

Goodwin was instrumental in nailing a $90 million shoe deal with Nike and endorsements totaling some $135 million for his former client.

That quote came from the May/June issue of Dime. Ironic how this story is now a moot footnote in Goodwin�s relationship with King James. As I read the story, I saw why LeBron was indeed the king of the advertising world in a hip-hop world. It was Goodwin�s savvy business sense and commitment to his clientele that made him an agent for Chris Webber, Dwight Howard and Amare Stoudamire. James was the crown jewel in Goodwin�s company. Yet that tie has been severed with James announcing that he was going have his three closest friends be a part of his management team. To me that is professional suicide. It�s suicide because not a single one of them, James included, have been out in the business world long enough to understand that it�s a dirty business. The fact that one of James� friends, Maverick Carter, is an intern at Nike and I am going to proudly assume that Phil Knight�s company is going to have their hands in everything that James does from now on.

Goodwin handled the situation with class and that is just a tribute to how he has formed his small sports marketing firm. If I knew someone wanted a person to represent him or her in his or her endeavors on the scale of a professional athlete, I would wholeheartedly endorse Goodwin without even batting an eyelash. For myself however, if the ball were in my court, I would be highly ticked off at James for making a move that has now set him on the path of corporate slavery. Nobody in his entourage understands a damn thing about sports management and marketing. Carter is an intern at Nike, not one who is making deals with players. As a matter of fact I question whether Carter would even be an intern at that company if he weren�t such a close buddy to James. This is a situation that has way too many close ties with Knight�s hands all over the deal whether people want to believe it or not.

CORPORATE SLAVERY OR IS IT SUICIDE AS WELL Imagine this if you will as to whether things would really work out well with James and Nike. What happens if James and Nike have a falling out? Can James get out from under the sickle and hammer that would be the Nike swoosh? Then another rumor that would have to be proven to be either fact or fiction is to whether Russell Simmons is indeed going to be a part of James� management team and whether Def Jam would be handling the sports agent aspect of any future contracts. Now if that were the case, the only thing that comes to my mind is Ricky Williams and Master P. Do you remember that situation when Williams came out of Texas? I do. Percy Miller (Master P) negotiated one of the worst NFL contracts known to the league for Williams and it cost him some serious money early in his career. Am I saying the Simmons, Jay-Z and whoever else is rumored to be in on this plan as bad of a sports agent as Miller? No but then again this isn�t the music business.

James has probably sold his future to the corporate suits at a time where he could have been the next coming of the Jordan line. Jordan�s brand has survived twenty years and the Jordan brand name is synonymous with excellence. Look at how many winning college programs are wearing his gear. Look at the numerous athletes who are sporting the look. Heck even a jazz musician is in the fold. Can LB23 surpass that success? I have my doubts now because I believe that James has gotten rid of the one person who could have made sure that he gets Jordan like endorsements and continue to make money long after his playing days are through. Goodwin would have been an agent for a lifetime for James. It didn�t seem that Goodwin was about becoming the Scott Boras of the basketball world. It�s too bad that James and his entourage didn�t understand how much of help Goodwin would be in the future. Yet as a young man, he has to make mistakes. I just hope that this isn�t a colossal mishap that costs him millions of dollars down the road. I hope the four horsemen can pull this off. If not, this may indeed be a blood bath that would have been very preventable.

WRITER�S NOTES: The full article on Aaron Goodwin can be found in the May/June issue of Dime magazine on page 38. A must read if you want to know why Goodwin is so successful as a Black sports agent.