Remember those Nike commercials from a few years back, where LeBron James would pull a “Nutty Professor” and play four different sides of himself? Well, Business LeBron, Wise LeBron, Kid LeBron, and Athlete LeBron have officially been revived—in cartoon form, at least.
James debuted his new Web miniseries ‘The LeBrons’ this week, where the four sides of LeBron will provide positive messages to youngsters in a 10-episode arc. The New York Times called the miniseries “a latter-day ‘Fat Albert and the Cosby Kids.’ ”
“I’m mostly a kid at heart,” James told the Times back in January, “and I’m the athlete, of course, that everyone sees. But I also have a business side, a cool side, and I love antique stuff and classical music. I guess that’s the old man side of me.”
Dan Goodman and Bill Masterson, who helped create and finance the show, believe that James’ expansive presence on social media will help get the show’s messages out (the basketball star’s Facebook account has more than 5.7 million fans and his Twitter account has in excess of 1.5 million followers). James is also showing “The LeBrons” on his personal website, lebronjames.com.
James’ popularity has been attractive to advertisers, as HP and Intel are both signed on as the show’s main sponsors. But both of the show’s financers stressed in various interviews that the show’s content and messages ultimately shine through the various brand placement throughout each episode.
“The number-one thing is content,” Masterson told Mashable earlier this week. “If consumers think it’s just one big commercial, then that wouldn’t be effective [for the show]. The brands don’t want that either.”
“I think we just have to strike a balance,” Goodman told the Times. "[In] that first episode, there happen to be a couple close-ups, but I think that if you watch the content, the general takeaway is content and not brand marketing.”
A portion of the proceeds from the show will be used to purchase computers for the Boys & Girls Clubs of America, an organization that James has long supported. James’ “The Decision” special on ESPN last summer raised more than $3 million for the Boys & Girls Club.
Here’s the first episode:
A version of this news article first appeared in the Schooled in Sports blog.