What Goes Into NBA Publicity?

I just came back from a weekend in Houston, Texas where I got to see the Final Four of NCAA College Basketball. The two games were entertaining to watch, each with a star player who stole the hearts of many adoring fans.

Many of these talented athletes have promises of a future in the NBA and the whole scenario had me wondering about what goes in to the publicity of an athlete? There were many questions I had. My first question was how young is too young to begin “press training” for these young “stars.” When I was watching the college players during interviews, some seemed to love the camera, making jokes and flashing a big smile, while others shied away from the spotlight and looked uncomfortable. You have to wonder if some of these qualities go into draft selections.

Take Kobe Bryant, for example. If you are a Lakers fan you worship him, if not it is usually the opposite. His personality and demeanor shine on the court and love him or hate him, he is a great basketball player. On top of being a great player on the court, he is also seen as a celebrity.  Is there a great PR team behind Kobe paving the way for his media success? Does this make him more valuable to the Lakers and any other team that may want to trade for him? I’m sure there are so many aspects of publicity that go into such a prominent player’s career, but what goes on behind closed doors?

What do you all think? Does a professional athlete’s personality on and off the court play into their worth in the NBA, or is it strictly athletic performance?

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2 Responses to What Goes Into NBA Publicity?

  1. mgingeri says:

    I believe that it is strictly athletic performance in regards to a player’s worth in the NBA, but their personality does have a lot to do with their particular stardom. Take Steve Nash for instance; he is not the most charismatic person in interviews, he seems to want to avoid the glam, but he is an amazing and crucial part of the Suns. No one would ever think Nash’s worth to the team, or the NBA for that matter, is diminished because he doesn’t smile enough in interviews. On the other hand, there are players like Dennis Rodman who has generated lots of press and fame for his crazy behavior. But this doesn’t mean he was more crucial to the team because of it; he was crucial because of his defensive skills.

  2. dbaxley says:

    I think ultimately, athletic ability and basketball knowledge triumph over personality characteristics. Still, I think personality certainly determines a player’s value to team owners and advertisers. Players like Lebron James, Steve Nash, Charles Barkley and Dwight Howard are great in front of a camera, which has led to millions of dollars in endorsements. Many times, players are drafted after only a year or two in college and their immaturity can often lead to negative coverage. Immaturity and selfish behavior can also lead to headaches for NBA coaches. Jerry Sloan, former coach of the Utah Jazz, resigned this year and rumors suggest that point guard Deron Williams was to blame. Former Arkansas quarterback Ryan Mallet’s draft stock dropped after he did poorly on character tests during the NFL Combine. Certain colleges even have rules about letting their players speak to the media, to prevent them from saying something that reflects poorly on the university. A negative personality can be cancer to a professional sports organization and lead to nightmares for the athlete’s publicist.

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