Space Jam: A New Legacy, is a highly anticipated remake of the 1996 classic. In the original Space Jam, Michael Jordan illustrates his career-defining comeback as an aspiration for athletes. In ‘A New Legacy,’ its storytelling encapsulates the live-action remake with a few important takeaways: embrace your imperfections, practice self-appreciation, and value life experiences apart from discipline. These are the attributes that are often overlooked by society. More importantly, the remake isn’t just a remake – it’s a metaphor for the culture and for the new athletes of this generation. It embraces limitless possibilities on and off the court as athletes see themselves as a growing empire. This is one of many bags secured by LeBron James, who is the beloved four-time NBA champion, husband, father, businessman – and now, a billionaire.
Of course, you may ask: Haven’t we heard about this before? Michael Jordan is known by most as the greatest of all-time. He acquired his billionaire status mostly from his acquisition of the Charlotte Hornets and seven-figure Nike endorsement deals. So what makes LeBron a different type of GOAT? It’s his ability to become the first active NBA player to earn a billion dollars in salary, endorsements, and various business ventures. One of the many qualities that contribute to his net worth include a four-year $153 million dollar contract with the Los Angeles Lakers; his first Nike deal that is worth more than $100 million; a $15.8 million investment from Time Warner for the creation of Uninterrupted, an athlete-empowered multimedia company, under his consumer and entertainment brand, The SpringHill Company (which also includes SpringHill Entertainment and The Robot Company); and a stake in the MLB’s Boston Red Sox and the Premier League’s Liverpool Football Club.
There is an urgency within our culture when it comes to black succession and wealth. And I love it! It’s an overwhelming progression. Our culture is evolving just as our opportunities and aspirations do. For example, in the NBA – as more players become multimillionaires, their first priority is holding the door open for other black athletes, family and friends. Say what you want about Lebron on the court, but off the court, he is a living example; If you see it, you can believe it!
In the words of music mogul and entrepreneur, Jay-Z, “I’m not a 'Business-Man'! I'm a Business... man! Let me handle my business, damn!” LeBron and Jay-Z share the same business sense; Jay-Z, born Shawn Carter, grew up in a drug-infected Brooklyn housing project and had to hustle to afford his lifestyle. He then used music as a platform that would ultimately evolve into the mogul we know today. Dreads. Skinny pants. And Beyoncé! As of late, his diverse portfolio includes Armand de Brignac, D'Ussé, Roc-Nation, TIDAL, his music catalog, his real estate, and an art collection, according to Forbes. He is one of a few rappers from his generation – Nas, 50 Cent, Diddy (now LOVE) – who understood what it meant to establish an empire.
The “bromance” between ballers and rappers is a common theme. Ballers wanna be rappers and rappers wanna be ballers! Jay-Z and LeBron’s relationship started in admiration and developed into a reciprocated mentorship. It’s common to hear a Jay-Z bar with LeBron's name or he’s courtside at his games. Most recently, the two appeared on the fourth season premiere of HBO’s ‘The Shop’ along with Maverick Carter, Bad Bunny, Nneka Ogwumike and Paul Rivera. Watching that episode made me realize that their relationship was more than an aesthetic. But the aesthetic is NICE! They’ve placed themselves in the leveraged position. I was once told that there are only a few times in life when you have leverage; and once you have it – keep it “tight,” because that’s the only way to change the game.
Side note – it's not just the LeBron James’ or the Jay-Zs of our generation who can contribute to change. You and I are equally capable of achieving realities that are beyond our comprehension.
The culture has seemingly been chastised under a generational curse. We are often taught that we must work twice as hard to get half as much … But we are better than this! We do not need to confine our gifts for their comfort. Step up and take your privilege!
LeBron launched a monumental career straight out of high school! Regardless of his athletic ability, he used his platform to achieve better things. He became one of the emerging few to create a “brownprint” for success. He used his skill set – a passion for basketball – to translate and transcend, look ahead and achieve the unthinkable.
There are great athletes, great celebrities, great leaders, but what will always stand out is what they DO with their greatness!
If there was a basketball Bible written about succession and wealth of today’s athlete – LeBron would write it in the King James version. He is not just a businessman, he’s a business – man! Let him handle his business… damn!