Is LeBron James Rebranding?

In 2006, Entrpreneur Magazine featured a piece on “The Art of Rebranding.”

According to the mag, there are positive and negative reasons for choosing to launch a re-branding campaign.

LeBron James“There are just about as many reasons to re-brand a business as there are ways to do it. Some of those reasons are positive (two organizations have merged or a company has significantly expanded its offering), while others are less rosy (the current brand has been tainted in some way or has become outdated).”

While Heat forward LeBron James is no doubt one of the best players in the league, his public approval has taken a bit of a hit after leaving Cleveland for Miami, highlighted by “The Decision” and what many thought to be a shortcut to an NBA title.

On Saturday night at a charity all-star game in Miami, James gave what called “an extremely appreciative heartfelt speech” to the fans at the game.

“To stand outside as long as you guys did to watch us play the game of basketball, we as players, wanted to play at a high level,” he said. “Thank you guys, thank you so much. We appreciate every last one of you.

“There’s no us without you guys.”

Lastly, these guys right here,” LeBron said, gesturing to the multitude of stars surrounding him. “You don’t understand how busy schedules can be and for every last one of these guys to throw away their schedule to be a part of this I want ya’ll to give them a hand.”

Even the biggest of LeBron haters can somewhat respect what James said, even if it was fed to him by his PR team before the game.

Hey, PR team, re-branding experts and a marketing team or not, it’s still a far cry from the last time James made headlines in the offseason.

Jordan Crawford ring a bell? Crawford, currently a guard for the Washington Wizards, played for Xavier at the time and participated in the LeBron James Skills Academy in Akron.

Well, Crawford did a little more than participate in the game. He lived out the dream of every college ball player when he slammed one over James, who had the tape confiscated.

This classy act by James still isn’t enough to wipe the memory of some NBA fans, who even said James would “have to have a heart to give a heart-felt speech.”

Ouch. Even the best re-branding campaigns fall flat on their face. James is till James to many fans, just like Altria is still Phillip Morris. A pretty, colorful new logo and name does little to change the fact that the company is still known for selling cancer sticks.

But fortunately for James, his new signature shoe, “The Cannon,” inspired by the U.S. Air Force debuted at the charity all-star game, and at $170 a pop, who needs re-branding anyway.

I can see his N-Score rising as I type.

About Michael A. De Leon

Michael founded Project Spurs in 2004. He started The Spurscast, the first Spurs podcast on the Internet, in 2005. Michael has been interviewed by the BBC, SportTalk, the Sports Reporters Radio Show, MemphisSportLive, OKC Sports Wrap and ESPN radio among others. He is a credentialed member of the media for the San Antonio Spurs and Austin Toros. He is also the founder of Project Spurs' sister sites, Toros Nation and Stars Hoops.