If LeBron James’ move from the Cleveland Cavaliers to the Los Angeles Lakers was as much about his off-court brand as his on-court success, then he’s certainly off to a flying start.
James has been involved in multiple projects that either have made it to air or are soon to be on their way. His show “The Shop”, starring luminaries from the worlds of sports and entertainment, debuted on HBO and is already opening up plenty of conversations. The format and James’ presence could lead it to be a ground-breaking series.
James is also co-producing an HBO documentary entitled “Student Athlete” that takes a look at the NCAA and the payment of college athletes, or lack thereof.
Finally, there’s James throwing back the insult of Fox News host Laura Ingraham as he is also spawning a documentary for Showtime called “Shut Up and Dribble” featuring the growing social response from basketball players. That series will also debut in October and Showtime released the following trailer below. Of note is the presence of exiting ESPNer Jemele Hill.
Hill’s quote is a helpful teaser for the series, “Sports has been a place for social and political movements, it always has been.” Certainly she and James have both experienced that truth. And the “stick to sports” crowd should prepare themselves, because it’s not going away anytime soon.
It’s not just the tonnage that James is producing – when was the last time you saw an athlete come out with three separate cable television series within just a few months – but it’s the content. These are serious and complex issues within not just sports but society as a whole. When was the last time an athlete was so willing to lead the way on so many important topics in society? Maybe the comparisons that link LeBron less to Jordan and more to Ali aren’t that far-fetched.