LeBron James and his childhood friend and marketing agent Maverick Carter appeared on CNN last night to discuss the aftermath of the method he employed to leave Cleveland for the Miami Heat.
In an interview for a piece by CNN reporter Soledad O’Brien, both James and Carter said they thought negative public reaction to how the NBA star left Cleveland was rooted in racism.
Here’s part of the on-camera exchange between O’Brien, James and Carter:
O’BRIEN (on camera): Whose idea was that?
JAMES: It was my idea and the people around me’s idea.
MAVERICK CARTER, CEO, LRMR MARKETING AND BRANDING: The execution could have been a little better and I take some of the blame for that.
O’BRIEN (voice-over): James entered the NBA as an 18-year-old. Two years later, he fired his agents and then put Carter, a 22-year- old college dropout, in charge of his $135 million worth of endorsement deals.
(on camera): How old were you?
CARTER: I was 22.
O’BRIEN: And you are the guy in charge of the most important valuable athlete maybe in the world?
CARTER: But I wasn’t alone. And if I would have been stupid enough to think for one second that I could do this all by myself all alone, absolutely, I would have been over my head. Everyone knows the concept, right, of LeBron pitching to the kids, it’s really cool –
CARTER: It’s just about control and not doing it the way it’s always been done or not looking the way that it always looks.
O’BRIEN (on camera): Do you think there’s a role that race plays in this.
JAMES: I think so at times. It’s always, you know, a race factor.
CARTER: It definitely played a role in some of the stuff coming out of the media, things that were written for sure.
O’BRIEN (voice-over): LeBron James and Maverick Carter say what does bother them is that lost amid the controversy is the fact that “The Decision” TV program raised $3 million for Boys & Girls Club of America.
CARTER: We own the advertising time. We went out and sold it to brands and we took every dime and donated it to charity.
JAMES: For me to have an opportunity to give back to the Boys & Girls Club of America, that I would never change that. And if I have to take heat to give back to kids, I would do it the same way every single time.
O’BRIEN (on camera): If you look at polls, there was some poll that said he was a top sixth disliked athlete. Do you worry about that?
CARTER: The decision he made to go play for the Miami Heat, that’s it. That’s where he’s going to play, so that’s not going to change anytime soon. He’s going to go play there. And you know, hopefully their team will do great.
O’BRIEN: LeBron tweeted, I will remember those of you who said this and did this. What’s that mean?
CARTER: That means the fuel that he’ll be playing with will be super duper duper premium. He usually plays with super premium. This year, that’s a little higher grade of fuel.
I can’t speak to personal reactions of James and Carter, but to blame the criticism of their method in leaving Cleveland on racism is a stretch - at best.
Also, Carter was incorrect in stating that “every dime” of the ad revenue from the TV broadcast announcing James’ free agent intentions was given to charity. Reporter Jim Gray has confirmed publicly that he received a “stipend” from the James camp for his appearance on the program.
There have also been conflicting figures reported as it pertains to how much exactly of the ad revenue garnered from the production went to the Boys & Girls Club of America.
Follow Brooks on Twitter for daily, real-time updates.