Nike: LeBron should go where he can win
Nike presumably has the money and influence to get involved in the NBA’s free-agent sweepstakes if it wishes, but the company is remaining neutral when it comes to the biggest free agent of all.
Asked yesterday by Newsday whether Nike would like to see LeBron James land in New York, Charlie Denson, president of the Nike brand, said, “Where LeBron ends up is totally up to LeBron. We’re obviously going to support him.
“He wants to put himself in the best situation to win . . . That’s the most important part. So I think LeBron is going to try to pick the best place where he can win, and wherever that is, we’re OK with that.’’
Denson did say he believes the attention focused on free agency is “great for the game.”
James signed an extension with Nike in March that is not believed to include a clause that would pay him more for moving to a market larger than Cleveland.
Denson spoke after an event at Chelsea Piers to announce the World Basketball Festival, a joint project of USA Basketball and Nike scheduled for Aug. 12-15 in Manhattan.
The event is part of the lead-up to the World Championships in Turkey and will include part of Team USA’s training camp. The Americans will play France in a “friendly” at the Garden Aug. 15, followed by a game between Puerto Rico and China. The national teams from Brazil also will participate in the festival, which will feature basketball (followed by a concert) on an outdoor court in Times Square Aug. 12 and scrimmages at Rucker Park in Harlem Aug. 13 and 14.
TNT’s Kenny Smith hosted yesterday’s news conference, which also featured the Thunder’s Kevin Durant, who finished second to James in MVP voting.
Asked whether he is curious about the upcoming free agency period, Durant — who is not a free agent — said, “To be honest, all I’m worried about is the Oklahoma City Thunder.”
After Denson answered the question about James, Smith added that wherever James plays, “He’ll be wearing Nike shoes while he’s doing it.”
Said Denson: “That’s a good bet.”