SBD/Issue 202/Sponsorships, Advertising & Marketing

Nike Says Dunk Over LeBron Not Reason For Confiscating Tapes

Nike and Cavaliers F LeBron James yesterday denied a report claiming that officials from Nike’s LeBron James Skills Academy "confiscated tapes from two videographers" because James had been dunked on by Xavier Univ. G Jordan Crawford during a pickup game, according to Brian Windhorst of the Cleveland PLAIN DEALER. Nike said that “taking the tapes had nothing to do with the dunk and more to do with the violation of the media procedures of the event.” The James Skills Academy is made up of top high school and college players and is "open to the media.”  There are often pickup games after those sessions in which James and some Cavaliers teammates play where the media is “permitted to watch but not permitted to do interviews or film.” Nike Media Relations Manager KeJuan Wilkins said, “Unfortunately, for the first time in four years, two journalists did not respect our ‘no videotaping’ policy at an after-hours pick-up game.” Nike officials said that both journalists who took footage of the action “understood the mistake and handed over their tapes without making a fuss” (Cleveland PLAIN DEALER, 7/9).

TALE OF THE TAPE: Freelance photographer Ryan Miller, one of the cameramen shooting the pick-up game, said that Nike Basketball Senior Dir Lynn Merritt “took his tape.” Miller: “He just said, ‘We have to take your tape.’ They took it from other guys, too.” Miller said James “called Lynn over and told him something” just minutes before Merritt demanded his tape (CBSSPORTS.com, 7/7). Miller, who was shooting for ESPNU, said, “He told me the session was off-limits for shooting. He said that I couldn’t shoot, and he actually said, ‘It’s not right to shoot these guys when they’re not in shape or they’re getting in shape for the season.’” In N.Y., Pete Thamel noted Nike officials “sent a warning to campers and the news media -- what happens at LeBron’s Camp stays at LeBron’s Camp” (NYTIMES.com, 7/8). Miller added, "The worst part is I'm not even sure I had the shot of the dunk. They might have taken it for no reason" (FOXSPORTS.com, 7/8).

James, Nike Deny Tape
Confiscated Over Dunk
WITNESS PROTECTION: Miami Herald columnist Dan Le Batard said Nike is “behaving like a North Korean dictator.” ESPN’s J.A. Adande: “You should not be in the business of taking people’s newsgathering materials, whether they’re journalists, whether they’re bloggers, whatever they are. We should be encouraging freedom to report” (“PTI,” ESPN, 7/8). ESPN's Scott Van Pelt: "LeBron's now reached a point where he's a brand, it's his name on the camp, and can say, 'We're not letting that video get out.' … You didn't want it to get out but it gets out like this, and it's way worse in my opinion" ("The Scott Van Pelt Show," ESPN2, 7/8). YAHOO SPORTS’s Chris Chase wrote, “This is a classic ‘he said/she said’ battle and I doubt we’ll ever get conclusive proof one side was right and one side was wrong. If you don’t like LeBron, you’ll use this as another reason to rag on him come NBA season. If you’re a LeBron fan, then Nike’s logical excuse is what you’ll believe" (SPORTS.YAHOO.com, 7/8).

MARKETING OPPORTUNITY? THE SPORTING BLOG's Dan Shanoff writes never "underestimate Nike's ... marketing skills." Shanoff: "Expect to see the footage from that tape show up in a TV ad next season -- promoting LeBron" (SPORTINGNEWS.com, 7/9). ESPN.com’s Jackie MacMullan: “I have a feeling this tape is going to show up somewhere because the minute all the bad publicity starts filling in, LeBron is savvy enough and smart enough to say, ‘You know what fellas, release it anyway’” (“Around The Horn,” ESPN, 7/8).

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