LeBron's Decision, Conventional Wisdom and Business Law

I began my career as a business litigator and have continued to be involved in filing or defending lawsuits ever since. One of the things that I learned from litigation is that you have to be very thorough in gathering facts, reviewing applicable precedents and thinking it all through. Invariably, my view changed after this process, no matter what everyone else around me was saying. That's why part of our motto about tailor our services is: "We do this by listening intently, thinking creatively and, where needed, challenging conventional wisdom."

This brings me to the reaction to LeBron Jame's televised announcement last night that after hearing out five or six teams he's going to join the Miami Heat, assuming that all the contract details get ironed out. I'm not a huge NBA fan, I'm much an NCAAF, NFL and NCAAB follower. And, I didn't plan to watch his special on ESPN. However, I was free and having some pizza with my daughters, so I turned it on as the Chicago Bulls still were a longshot. It was interesting to explain the situation to my uninformed daughers, because they quickly grasped the human factor of deciding to stay in one's hometown, seek out the highest caliber situation or simply join one's friends.

But, what was even more interesting to me was the universal press and blogosphere reaction trashing LeBrown's show. From a business, and contract negotiation, perspective, I completely disagree. First, while there's no doubt that LeBron has a healthy ego like most superstars, I was struck by overall how mature, thoughtful and articulate he was, particularly given that he never attended college. And, it's odd that the very people who complain about the artificial buzz, hype and the like are the ones who choose to write it about. Next, the free agency and negotiation process carefully orchestrated by James, Dwyane Wade, Chris Bosh and others seems sophisticated and far-sighted. It completely turned the tables so that now the draftees had the power of the drafters. Finally, the NBA itself has turned its annual draft into a long build-up and televised extravaganza and nobody seems to complain about that. Ultimately, this neutral observer has empathy for Cleveland fans and residents, but finds LeBron's performance superior to that of those who cover him.

So, thank you LeBron for a reminder that it's important to think for oneself and it's not always easy to be in the minority. You have provided a valuable lesson that careful review, planning and analysis can result in a better outcome, whether negotiation a contract or resolving litigation.

Chicago business attorney Jeremy A. Gibson would be happy to discuss your favorite sports and business or law analogies, along with your corporate, contract or other question, at our Chicago business law office, Deerfield business law office or other suburban office.