The NBA offseason is when even the less-than-sensitive basketball fans become real geeks and maniacally monitor the news feeds for rumors, trades, and details about the vacation lives of the league’s stars. If not the biggest, then certainly the most talked about one is LeBron James, for whom the previous three months have been even too busy. So it’s worth looking back at some of the most significant events that happened to the star over the summer.
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James had a pompous start to the summer. As early as June 2, Forbes reported that the 37-year-old basketball player’s income totaled $121.2 million, and his total net worth reached $1 billion. LeBron became the first active basketball player in NBA history to achieve such economic prosperity.
When he was a player, even Michael Jordan could not boast of such financial power, whose fortune began to be measured in ten digits only in 2014, 11 years after the end of his sports career. Well, it’s safe to say that James continues to close the gestalt he had set beforehand. The forward talked about his intention to become a billionaire back in 2014 in an interview with GQ magazine.
“I want to maximize my business. And if I can reach that mark, if I become a billionaire athlete – hip-hop hooray! I’ll be thrilled.”
Reaching his intended status didn’t affect LeBron’s financial zeal one bit. A few weeks later, the agency James founded in shares with his friend and partner Maverick Carter became a partner in a new company called Hana Kuma, based by the famous tennis player Naomi Osaka. The company produces television series, documentaries, anime, and author and entertainment programs with built-in advertising.
True, it wasn’t even a couple of days before the newly minted venture began to go up in flames in a scandal.
It turned out that the name Hana Kuma, which means “flower bear” in Japanese, has some gynecological connotations in Swahili and translates as “woman without a vagina. Despite its seeming exoticism, the Swahili language is the world’s tenth most widely spoken language, and more than 200 million people say it. And in several African countries, it even has official state status. So the company immediately received reproaches and calls to rename the project. As Hana Kuma focuses on the global market, Osaka immediately promised to think about how to fix the embarrassment.
If she can’t figure it out herself, Lebron will help. He knows how to monetize even insults against him. Remember back in 2018 when Fox News anchor Laura Ingraham told James to “shut up and bang the ball” after his comments about then-current U.S. President Donald Trump? So this summer, LeBron and Maverick Carter’s company, Uninterrupted, Inc., applied to register the trademark “Shut Up and Dribble” (“Shut Up and Dribble”). Under this brand, James plans to peddle everything from sports equipment to art and virtual clothing collections.
In general, the main thing is to get permission for a catchy name, and it will be possible to sell even wigs under it (how else LeBron, with his hair, had not thought of that).
While reporters were reminding LeBron of the Lakers’ failure to make the playoffs, James was at home in the Maldives with his wife. The topic of the family has been one of the main themes for the forward this offseason. He managed to drop in on two weddings at once between training and participation in friendlies. In June he and his wife attended the wedding of their friend and former teammate from the champion “Cleveland” Kevin Love, and in August he stopped by for a similar event at the Golden State Warriors player Draymond Green, who got married to actress Hazel Renee. In addition to James, Stef and Seth Curry, Damien Lillard, and Jason Tatum were there to see Greene off on his final bachelor’s journey.
James did not forget his other passion. After the – what was it – failure of his own long-running “Space Jam: The Next Generation,” LeBron continues to circle around representatives of the most important – according to Lenin’s grandfather – of the arts. In June, the player attended the premiere of the basketball drama “Hustle,” starring Adam Sandler and Utah forward Juan Hernangomez, with James himself serving as producer.
Despite the abundance of film content, to which James has a direct or indirect relation, his main brainchild is still the show “The Shop.” To the best of his knowledge and eloquence, there, LeBron philosophizes on current affairs. It should be noted that the summer broadcasts turned out hot.
This time, the passive discussions over wine in the barbershop setting and the company of celebrities began innocuously. After flying past the playoffs, LeBron didn’t take long to share his vision of which 2022 playoff team he’d like to play for.
Incidentally, in July, information that the Lakers forward has a high chance of becoming an NBA team owner in Las Vegas was confirmed by Fox Sports analyst Rick Bucher. He recalled that despite the lack of any clear timeline for league expansion, the NBA intends to create teams in Las Vegas and Seattle after it signs the next big TV deals. So we may see LeBron James playing with his sons for the team he intends to acquire shortly, with LeBron James also analyzing what’s happening on the court. On the same show, “The Shop,” the multi-tasking forward said he’s ready to follow the example of famed NFL quarterback Tom Brady, who plans to work in sports television after his career ends.
Not even royalty are allowed to utter such idioms in the land of great opportunity and racial equality, so critical arrows flew at James. He couldn’t dodge them all at once, so, calling for the help of an explanatory crew, he clarified exactly what he meant.
Hurt by criticism, James decided to vent his soul on Boston fans, and when it came to the most challenging place to play in the NBA, he executed the overwhelming population of the City of Beans.
“Boston is beyond the competition. Because they’re racist, they can say anything there, and that’s okay. I experienced it firsthand. I’ve had to deal with it all my life. I don’t mind… That’s what I’m hearing. If I hear it from someone around me, I quickly figure it out and tag it for myself. Then, I switch to the game. They can throw something at you. The other day, a beer flew at me when I was leaving the court.”
LeBron didn’t have to flatter himself because there was no reason to. Ever since the days of Bill Russell, Boston has been known for its racially specific attitude toward its players. Maybe that’s why James doesn’t go to Boston for charity tournaments in the offseason but prefers to rock elsewhere.