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Decision Day for LeBron

Posted on | July 8, 2010 | No Comments

By Dr. Robert Passikoff

LeBron James will end an unprecedented free-agent frenzy tonight by revealing whether he will remain with the Cleveland Cavaliers or sign elsewhere. James will announce his future NBA plans during a one-hour special on ESPN at 9PM, Thursday. Proceeds for sponsorship for the special will be going to the Boys and Girls Clubs of America.

New York City is really the place for someone who once claimed that they wanted to be an active billion-dollar athlete. The Bulls boast a top-5 point guard and a top-3 rebounder to help LeBron score all those points. The Heat is probably a wild card, but there is the lure of having Pat Riley come out of retirement just to coach you. The Clippers are a long shot too but they have Vinny Del Negro, who took Chicago to consecutive playoff appearances. The Nets are low on the list and the Cavaliers high, but no matter how they’re ranked, both teams have the Loyalty Factor working for them.

LeBron James is as loyal as they come and as one of his closest friends, rapper Jay-Z, is one of the owners of the Nets, there are long term ties at work there. Cleveland is, of course, LeBron’s hometown and moving away from that and the opportunity to take his team to its 1st championship tests the bonds of loyalty. Staying could come with a 6-year, $125 million deal sweetener.

Then there are the fans. Fans think their players are supermen. But beyond adoration, as loyal fans fill the stadia, buy more licensed merchandise, and watch the team more often on TV, we turned to our Sports Fan Loyalty Index to see how local fans rank their own teams.
Here’s how they line up:

1. Heat
2. Cavaliers
3. Nets
4. Bulls
5. Knicks / Clippers

Mr. James’ decision of which team to play for is a complex matter. But so is fan loyalty. It’s mostly emotional with a dollop of rational statistics thrown in. But the statistics are just for the present. Fan loyalty can be for a lifetime.

Dr. Robert Pasikoff is President of Brand Keys, Consumer Insights Research and Consulting

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