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Lebron James is one of the sport world’s biggest names and the peak is still in his reach. Despite King James being at the forefront of the NBA’s elite, his athleticism isn’t the only thing he’s relying on. Another trustful crutch that James has confidence in is his good friend Maverick Carter. Growing up with Lebron in Ohio, the two have developed and established a strong business that lists NBA Basketball and apparel, a Hollywood Production company, a scholarship program, and a media platform for athletes to express themselves dubbed “Uninterrupted.”
GQ recently sat down with ‘Bron’s business manager to detail their relationship, planning for life after the NBA and the relationship between risk and reward when it comes to King James’ career.
Check out some of the sit-down discussion below and view the entire conversation with Maverick Carter here.
When did you and LeBron decide Hollywood was the next frontier?
It was the natural evolution. Obviously, the goal was to figure out ways to take his talent, who he is, what he represents, and build businesses around that. Because being a great basketball player, there’s a very tight window.
So you guys have always been working on life after basketball?
Once basketball is over, you’ve got f***ing 50 years left to live. So you gotta hit ‘em while you got the muscle, as they say in The Godfather.
LeBron being in Trainwreck was a risk. What if LeBron wasn’t funny? What if it was a disaster?
When we were thinking about doing Trainwreck, I asked myself, What’s the downside? The downside is LeBron does a movie, he’s bad at it, and everyone goes: He’s bad in a movie. But he’s still the best basketball player in the world. Also, it wasn’t his movie. He’s not on the poster. He didn’t have to carry the weight. Nobody was saying, I’m going to see LeBron’s movie.
So you just negotiated an unprecedented lifetime contract for LeBron with Nike. What’s your secret to being a great negotiator?
You have to go into the room understanding a couple things. You have to know what you want. You have to know how to clearly articulate those things. You have to know what’s important to the other side and what they want. Be able to articulate those things, too. And then you have to be willing to not take everything. If you go into the negotiation like, I’m gonna get every dollar, every piece of real estate—I’m just gonna take this guy’s f***ing pants off—you may be able to do that once, maybe twice, but after that, people aren’t going to want to do business with you. When you’re negotiating something like the Nike deal, it’s gonna last a lifetime, literally. The minute this negotiation’s over, we’re gonna work with these people every day. So you don’t want to leave them with a bad feeling.
How much was the deal for?
I can’t say.
Come on, Mav! Can you ballpark it?
What are people saying?
Kanye said a billion. So a billion.
[Maverick smiles and points one finger skyward.]
Yeah. It’s a fantastic deal. Nike feels great about the deal. That’s the most important thing. As great as I feel, as great as LeBron feels—Nike feels fantastic about it. It’s the largest deal in the history of the company. Their hope is he makes even more. And our hope is that, too, obviously.