NBA Is Milking Free Agency for Publicity
While superstars like Darko and Drew Gooden were busy agreeing to contracts on the first day of free agency, also-rans like LeBron James, Dwyane Wade, and Chris Bosh have been taking their sweet time making a decision. Even though this is a momentous choice for these players and there are many factors to examine before signing with a team, I can’t help but feel like the players and the league are dragging things out on purpose. While would they do such a thing? Delaying their decisions keeps the buzz going and the free publicity rush moving. Allow me to explain.
Every day that goes by and one of the three stars of the class doesn’t announce a decision, it’s another day that the news cycle spends speculating on their futures. For someone like Chris Bosh who had to produce a used car salesman video in order to make it into the All-Star Game two years ago, you can’t buy the type of attention he’s been receiving. Don’t think this free agency period has raised his profile? Think again.
As of two months ago, Chris Bosh had 110,000 twitter followers. Now, Bosh is up to 164,000 followers which is a nice 49% increase. Dwyane Wade is up to 403,000 followers on twitter, as he’s picked up around 10,000 followers in just the last few days. If I’m not mistaken, he’s added nearly 70,000 followers in the last three weeks.
As for LeBron James? Does he even need more publicity given how popular he already is? Well in addition to going on Larry King Live for an interview with the Oxford and bow tie crowd, Sports by Brooks learned that LeBron James would announce his decision on his newly designed website. If I’m running LeBron’s marketing team, my formula is pretty simple: no announcements until we’ve surpassed a million visitors.
It’s pretty obvious that these guys are dragging this process along on purpose. They’re manipulating the public for one reason — because they can. Sadly, they’re not alone in all of this. I wouldn’t be surprised if the NBA’s office asked these guys to take their time in announcing the news. It’s nothing but publicity and buzz for the league to steal all kinds of headlines for days on end. The only difference is it’s not free publicity.
Tech Crunch pointed out that the term “LeBron James” is one of the trending topics on Twitter. But that’s not all. LeBron James isn’t a naturally trending topic; the NBA is paying to promote him on twitter! Yes, the NBA is using LeBron James, Dwyane Wade, and Chris Bosh to try and drive traffic to their website. Witness this tweet: “For the most up to date NBAFreeAgency information on LeBron James, Dwyane Wade, Chris Bosh and more click here!” and of course that takes you to their site.
Between the television crews filming Bosh and Wade’s meetings to Dwyane’s cryptic twitter posts, this whole free agency deal seems more and more like a charade. Now, it appears as if the NBA is working with its stars on creating as much publicity and hype as possible before ending this summer reality show. If the NBA knew the players were going to select teams immediately, why would they be paying for promotion several days later? They know very well what they’re doing.