CLEVELAND -- LeBron James thinks he can help fast friend Ted Ginn Jr. become a bigger star.
Further broadening his business portfolio, the Cavaliers'
forward has signed Ginn, the former Ohio State speedster now a
rookie wide receiver for the Miami Dolphins, to a marketing
Ginn is the first athlete signed by LRMR Marketing, James'
budding sports marketing company.
"To do this, not so much for money but to maybe get on a Sprite
commercial with LeBron or anything, that'd be fun," Ginn said.
Ginn, who signed a five-year contract worth more than $13
million last week, said knowing James for years made the decision
an easy one.
"A lot of football guys don't get a lot of marketing their
first couple years coming out," he said. "You've got to do big
things to do that. He's been a good friend to me for the last four
or five years, so the best thing for me is get involved with
someone I know."
James formed the marketing firm two years ago with childhood
friends Richard Paul, Maverick Carter and Randy Mims. The company
takes its name from the initials of the foursome's first names.
The group's goal was to heighten James' profile through
endorsement deals and business deals. The 22-year-old star, who led
Cleveland to its first NBA finals last season, is one of the
world's most recognized athletes.
While not on as grand of a scale, LRMR is hoping to enhance
Ginn's image with business ventures.
"We're excited about working with Ted," said Maverick Carter,
LRMR's CEO. "We've known him for a long time and he's someone who
has the same values we do. We have a lot of respect for him and his
Carter said the first step will be acquiring a shoe and apparel
deal for Ginn, who skipped his senior season with the Buckeyes to
turn pro. LRMR plans to sign other pro athletes, Carter added.
Ginn is excited about the chance to work with James, whom he has
known for years. James has been mixing basketball and business
moves for awhile.
He signed a seven-year, $90 million deal with Nike before
graduating high school and he has amassed more than $150 million in
endorsement contracts. Earlier this year, he launched a Web site in
a partnership with Microsoft. Forbes Magazine estimated that James
made $26 million from June 2005 to June 2006.
James' TV commercials for Nike, in which he plays four
different versions of himself, are extremely popular. He
successfully hosted the ESPY Awards last month and will host the
season premiere of "Saturday Night Live" in September. Last
season, Ohio State's basketball team wore jerseys and shorts
bearing James' logo.
From the start, James has followed a path blazed by Michael
Jordan, who built a business empire during his NBA career and has
grown his Air Jordan brand in retirement.
"One day, I hope LeBron could be like Jordan and I can be the
first guy to come out with some LeBron cleats and things like
that," Ginn said. "In time, this could be like Jordan. And to be
the first football guy to sign with him, that's something no one
can ever take away from me."