Let’s get this out there ’cause it’s free agency season and everything needs to be repeated at least 1000 times: LeBron James and his people made a mistake by broadcasting his ego stroke in a one-hour, nationally televised, flop. Now, I don’t agree with the statement that any publicity is good publicity, but during that pitiful joke of a television program, I received more texts and calls from casual fans than I have during any actual game. You don’t think David Stern was smirking when he found out “The Decision” was the third-most watched program on cable this year? I know Stern basically owns a perma-smirk, but he knows there will undoubtedly be more people watching basketball next season because of that prime-time mess.
“The Decision” does not have to be done as douchey, it does not have to feature a hated figure in LBJ, and it doesn’t have to contain an hour full of garble-garble-garble. Let’s say Kevin Garnett was a free agent back in 2007 when everyone liked KG and was rallying for him to find a new basketball home. From July 1st – July 7th, championship caliber teams sell him their pitch, then on July 8th, a half-hour program stars with a four-minute vignette of Garnett’s career. Followed by a couple interviews with his high school / professional coaches who tell us about that time he carried an elderly person on his back for eight blocks to the pharmacy, and we’re all in love. A commercial break takes us to the 11-minute mark. Next, the much-hated predictions from broadcasters or current / former ball players take us to the 14-minute mark. Then, it’s the moment we’ve all been waiting 15 minutes for – Mr. Garnett’s decision. He lets us know, one more break, he comes back for interviews, another montage or two, couple reactions, annnnnnnd, scene.
See? That was easy. Of course, a scenario like Garnett’s doesn’t occur every year, but that’s the point: marketing teams need to be selective in their choice. I don’t see how a less obtrusive production and more likable character wouldn’t go over well with the public. To the folks that say only a LeBron-type would attempt something like this, players can look at it as a press conference which they go through every day. This will happen again, and we’ll all watch it, again.