LeBron is The FranchiseFirst Look At New Book About LeBron

Terry Pluto, formerly of the Akron Beacon-Journal and currently with the Cleveland Plain Dealer and Brian Windhorst, current beat writer for the Akron Beacon-Journal, have teamed up to write what looks to be a quite insightful book that looks into the becoming of LeBron James and his impact on the city of Cleveland and the team itself.

Windhorst posted some info about the new book in his blog today, including some links to some glimpses inside the cover of the book. There’s also a new blog site dedicated solely to the book with info on the book itself and the authors.

The previews of the book that Windhorst posted links to contain some fascinating tidbits. He previewed 2 chapters, one on the shoe deal and one on the draft lottery.

In the shoe deal chapter, here’s a sample from the book,

“Still, Schreyer admitted Nike was always the favorite, partly because Nike usually pays the most.

“If Nike is behind you, if they are going to make the investment in you, that’s the place you are going to go,” he said. “Their track record with marketing marquee athletes and establishing icons is unparalleled. If you could get the best deal with Nike, all things being equal, you go with Nike.”

In the weeks leading up to the official talks, which started in early May, Vaccaro had been doing his best to control expectations. The only shoe company representative granting interviews, Vaccaro repeatedly said James would likely get around $5 million per season for five years. That $25 million deal would have been a record deal for any player coming into the NBA, much less one straight from high school.

One of Goodwin’s first moves was to reach out to Reebok. He knew Nike and adidas would come with offers, but he wanted to get as many companies involved in the bidding as possible. While they had been on the sidelines when it came to making inroads with James and his family, Reebok had a significant interest.

Reebok developed much lower profile relationships with the James family, even sending Eddie Jackson, LeBron’s surrogate father, letters at the federal prison where he was sent midway through James’ senior season. Still, it was a challenge to make Reebok believe it had a legitimate shot at landing James. It seemed that their offer would be used as something to inspire Nike and adidas to raise their bids.

Goodwin told Reebok that they had a lot of ground to make up, but that James would give them an honest shot. It just had to be a strong shot, an earth-shaking cannon shot, the kind never heard before in the shoe wars.”

And from the chapter on the draft lottery,

“Cleveland GM Jim Paxson’s top three were James, Carmelo Anthony and Dwyane Wade–in that order. He had Anthony a close No. 2 to James.

“It’s possible if we had the third pick and Anthony and LeBron were gone, we might have considered trading it,” said Paxson. “I liked Wade a lot, but I don’t think anyone knew he’d become such a great player.”

Paxson said he believed the draft would have James and Anthony as the first two picks, Darko Milicic being No. 3. Paxson had scouted Milicic in Europe and was totally underwhelmed. He projected the 7-footer as exactly what the Cavs didn’t need–a project requiring patience and lots of work. After Wade, he had Chris Bosh and Kirk Hinrich, in that order.

“Bosh was intriguing, but he still had a thin frame and could probably have used another year in college,” said Paxson. “Wade was a combo guard. Was he better as a point? Or a shooting guard? He was just a very good guard. The top player was LeBron.”

Cavs owner Gordon Gund wanted to be sure that James was more than a local legend. More than once, he asked Paxson about James.

“That’s because Jim was not from the market,” said Gund. “He would not be swayed by public opinion. He could evaluate LeBron in a cold, hard-nosed manner. And he was convinced about LeBron being special, that it had nothing to do with LeBron being a hometown favorite. He would be a great player.””

Great stuff from Pluto and Windhorst. And as a Cavaliers fan who suffered through so many bad years under Paxson, how could you not smile and chuckle a little bit at that last part?? At least the guy knew LeBron was going to be special. Good for him. I saw LeBron play his sophomore year in the state finals at the Schottenstein Center, and I could tell within 40 seconds of the game just how special LeBron was/is. He was an absolute freak of nature.

Anyway, I’m excited to read the book, which comes out December 10th. If you’d like to order a copy, you can do so at amazon.com. In the meantime check the blog site for the book for more info. Should be some good stuff on there.