LeBron James: The Businessman

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Joe Murphy/Getty Images

Joe Murphy/Getty Images

Sometimes I don’t think we give athletes enough credit. So often we hear about the one’s that blow through millions of dollars and struggle financially for the rest of their lives. Nothing pains me more to hear those kinds of stories. Which is why it’s so refreshing to know that despite the circus that was LeBron James and his summer of free agency, this guy really has his head screwed on right and is going to be just fine when his playing days are over.

Look, LeBron has made nearly $130-million dollars over his career and probably has at least 6-7 more years to contribute to his 401K. I think it’s safe to say he’s going to be okay. Then again, we probably said the same thing about Allen Iverson, who made $154-million over his 14-year career, and we all know how that turned out.

Four years ago, when LeBron went through free agency for a first time, things couldn’t have gone any worse. Even though he got big money and two titles with the Miami Heat, “The Decision” was a public relations nightmare. Both LeBron and his management team learned a lot from that fiasco.

James’ agent, Rich Paul of Klutch Sports, and Mark Termini, who handles the contract negotiations, were thinking about LeBron’s future when putting together this deal with the Cavs. In fact, the move from Miami to Cleveland might be more of a business decision than a basketball decision.

Instead of locking in their client to a 4-year, $88-million contract, Klutch Sports opted for a 2-year deal worth $42.2-million that includes a player option after the first season. The reason for that? The NBA’s TV deals are up after the 2015-16 season and those revenues are expected to go up significantly, which would also push the salary cap up, which would also push max contracts up. That’s when we should expect LeBron to sign his long-term deal.

When it comes to American athletes that have set the standard in performance and marketability the timeline has gone as follows … Arnold Palmer to Michael Jordan to Tiger Woods to LeBron James. All were/are as powerful off the court/course as they were/are on. For LeBron, its Coca-Cola, Nike, Samsung, Upper Deck and Dunkin’ Donuts just to name a few. That equates to over $40-million a year before he ever scores a point.

LeBron is still a polarizing figure to the general public. The great one’s usually are. But what can’t be debated is that this guy has a business plan that not only sets him up for now, but also has an eye on the future. The rest of the players in sports should take notice.

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