Crazy Commerce, Commerce Crazed
(Actual post follows the store stuff)
With a lull in the season, what better to do than revamp the FreeDarko store, repress some in-demand tees, and roll out some new prints? Yes, starting last night, you can visit the brand new FD Imperial Marketplace, whose clean and articulate presentation alone should inspire you to cut into your tax payment. Highlights are open editions prints of some Style Guides, at a lower price than the artist's edition ones (see Lamar Odom, above), and re-ups of THE STEPHEN JACKSON TEE YOU EMAIL ME ABOUT EVERY OTHER DAY and the Classic 2.0.
Right now we're taking pre-orders on those, but they should be available in 2-3 weeks. And this is just the first wave: Get ready for some totally original new shirts and more portrait prints in time for the playoffs. The shit you've never seen before. Now, in other news. . .
-Me with a point about GM's
-I can't tell if this quote from Ray Allen regarding Bron Bron's future is inspiring or deeply suspicious, like he's trying to undermine the kid's career so the Celts have a clear path as they fade. From CBS News:
"Mike paved the way for all of us to open up the endorsement door," said Celtics star Ray Allen, another Jordan Brand athlete. "But the one thing that Mike never was is political. I think in today's era, the NBA player has an even greater podium if he chooses to use it. And with Barack Obama being the first black president, it's a great forum. I think that would separate him from anybody who's done this. ... It's great to be a basketball player, but to transcend sports is a big responsibility. If he were able to pull that off -- if he wants to pull that off -- I think that would set him apart."
First, let's take Ray Ray at face value, since I like the world better that way. And I might be getting confused due to the ol' cut and paste, but—key to this point—LeBron isn't a Jordan Brand guy. He does have the leeway to push, even redefine with an athlete brand means if he feels like it. I think most of us would agree that politics is the easiest way to alienate a bunch of potential consumers. But, while I know Allen is focused on what Obama the FBP can do in office, let's not forget what a marketing sensation Barack was before the election, when through no fault of his own, he created the Nike of politics. Sure, the stances were at times vague, and style may mattered more (or been as much of a statement as) substance. Though there's no denying the fact that Obama awakened something citizen-like in people while offending or boring as few as possible in an election year. If LeBron were to at least give the appearance of political engagement, and of therefore having a constituency at his fingers, that would make him a leader. And then, "brand" hardly seems a sufficient description.
I'm not saying this would be an altogether cynical maneuver. Nor do I think James could realistically call out China at a press conference. But he's got the world's attention, and a team around him that could do some risk-management assessment on what issues he could and could not get near. Maybe this would just turn him into a world-class philathrophist. The Bill Gates of sports. On the other hand, now that (go ahead, bold and attack this statement) so many formerly "black" issues are now publicly acknowledged to be everyone's problems, it's possible to take a stand on public schools, health care, unemployment or housing issues without seeming like a dangerous radical. Sure, Hollywood talks all the time. And yet we've learned to tune them out, question what little authority they have, and wonder why they bother. LeBron James could leverage an entirely new kind of pop culture politics. It would be a risk, but, to follow Ray Allen's reasoning, it would be one hell of a way to get bigger than Jordan and carve out an unmistakable legacy.
All this assumes that LeBron gives a damn. Maybe all he needs is the right mentor to get in his ear. Or to find that one issue where he can afford to take corporate interests. Fuck a petition; could LeBron James have a trade policy, at least when it came to sneakers? Imagine if he got a Nike plant put in Akron. Or, going beyond the usual thirty-second spot, went before Congress and urged them to not leave behind international aid programs. It sounds ridiculous, but then again, so did the idea of everyone wearing Obama all-over print hoodies after Iowa. If Obama was the ultimate feat of politics crossing over into pop culture, why couldn't LeBron—who is a pop culture brand, not just a symbol of athletic excellence—try the inverse?
Of course, none of this happens if LBJ doesn't get invited to the White House a few times, minus a ton of publicity, and with appearance alone laying the gorundwork for both independence and continuity.