Black History Month In Focus: Maverick Carter

This is part of The Shadow League’s yearly Black History Month In Focus series celebrating Black excellence in sports and culture.

People often confuse Black History with the past, never realizing that it continues to be made on a daily basis. 

Years from now, when his accomplishments can be viewed in their totality, folks will come to the realization that Maverick Carter left an indelible mark on the sports and entertainment landscape. But one does not need to wait in order to fully appreciate what he’s already done while conjuring up the limitless ceiling of what he’ll do next.

Maverick Carter Talks LeBron James, Uninterrupted & More w/Rich Eisen | Full Interview

Uploaded by The Rich Eisen Show on 2017-11-02.

Carter was raised in Akron, Ohio by a mother who utilized her passion and talents for assisting others within the field of social work. His father was a hustler in the drug game who spent Maverick’s childhood years on significant vacations sponsored by the feds. When his father became incarcerated, his mother attended the University of Akron on her lunch breaks and at night, eventually earning a bachelors degree in communications.

But it seems as if Maverick internalized both the hustler’s anthem, a curious and inquisitive mind, and an eye towards impacting others, utilizing all of those qualities in a space that he could possibly have never imagined back in the day.

His first life vision was formed in middle school, and the athletic space provided the impetus. But not quite in the way that you might think.

When asked what he wanted to be when he grew up in an excellent GQ Magazine Q&A from May of 2016, Carter said, “Well, like every kid playing basketball, I dreamed of being an NBA player. It’s kinda like that Chris Rock joke: In the hood, there’s only a couple professions. My dad was a drug dealer. My mom was a social worker. In seventh grade, I was on an AAU team, and we went up to this neighborhood called Hudson. It was nice, with big houses. I was like, Holy shit, people live like this? And to the Chris Rock joke, the guy whose house I was at, his dad was just an athletic trainer. He was an athletic trainer for the Cleveland Indians. He wasn’t a basketball star or a musician. Chris Rock says the white guy who lives next door is a dentist. The black guy has to be the greatest in the world. So when I saw that, I wanted to be an athletic trainer.”

Lebron James High School Feature

This March 2001 story on Lebron James of Akron St. Vincent St. Mary’s High School contains some of the earliest known basketball highlights of the NBA superstar. The feature from Lebron’s sophomore year includes interviews with then Akron head coach Keith Dambrot and travel coach Gregg Collins.

He played high school ball at St. Vincent-St. Mary’s, and was a senior on the squad when a precocious pup named LeBron James was a freshman. 

Carter took his talents to Western Michigan University for hoops, then later transferred back to the University of Akron.

When James’ NBA stardom had taken full flight, the sports establishment, along with businessmen who were long accustomed to taking their healthy percentage of elite athletes’ agent and marketing fees, scoffed when he fired his agent and alerted the world to the fact that the dynamics of the actual business of LeBron would be shifting. 

He’d assembled his own team to negotiate his future contracts, licensing deals and business arrangements, with Carter playing a significant role in that enterprise.

Lebron James Nike Commercial – Swimming Pool

LeBron James Nike Commercial – Swimming Pool. Advertisement aired at the beginning of the 06-07 NBA season. The song is “Summer Madness” by Kool & The Gang.

Those who engage in racist stereotypes pictured Mike Tyson’s Brownsville, Brooklyn homies running amok in Las Vegas at the prime of his heavyweight reign as an example of what LeBron’s management team would look like. They dismissed the enterprise as arrogant and juvenile. 

But Maverick Carter stepped on the scene and proved immediately that he and the collective was about their business, not merely unqualified friends of the King simply going along for the ride. He made people take notice with his moves, vision and acumen, with a profound impact that resonated like when Inspectah Deck came rumbling through the function on Gang Starr’s “Above The Clouds”.

Gangstarr-Above The Clouds

(Guru) Myself lord and master shall bring disaster to evil factors demonic chapters shall be captured by kings Through the storms of days after and to the earth from the sun through triple darkness to blast ya with a force that cant be compared to any fire power for its

Maverick discussed cutting his teeth and beginning his professional development at Nike in the previously mentioned GQ article. 

“When people ask what college I graduated from, I say: I didn’t graduate from college. I graduated from Nike,” he said. “I started my career as an intern getting coffee. I was working in sports marketing, which means building the brands of Nike and the athletes. What I realized after I left Nike is that they tell stories. These shoes I have on are just shoes. Obviously, they put some technology in it. This is knit. This is lunar. Blah blah blah. But they tell you the best story ever about this sneaker. They tell better stories than anyone in Hollywood. So it was just a natural evolution: marketing, storytelling, building your brand, producing content. I’d been doing it my whole life already.”

Athletes Can Get Honest on Uninterrupted | Fortune

Fans get an inside look at their favorite sports stars.

And right about now, very few are telling stories much better than Carter and the LRMR sports marketing agency.  LRMR manages and negotiates all of the marketing contracts James secures to endorse companies and products. Every time you see LeBron smiling on a Sprite, Samsung, Kia or any other commercial, know that Carter’s creative marketing mastery is somewhere in the mix.

LeBron’s business manager since 2006, Carter alongside Rich Paul and Randy Mims, collectively known with James as The Four Horsemen, have transformed the NBA superstar into The Gold Standard of how an active athlete conducts business off the court. 

Carter was instrumental in arranging LeBron’s equity deals with Beats by Dre and the Fenway Sports Group that secured a partial stake in Liverpool F.C., which crazily elevated his international portfolio and profile. And let’s not forget the most recent Nike deal which is rumored to have a potential worth of $1 Billion. 

The LeBrons – EPISODE 7 (of 10) Drake – LeBron James Animated Series


He also helped conceptualize and develop The LeBrons commercials and eventual cartoon series, and was a co-founder ofSpringHill Entertainment, their film and entertainment concern that has produced the Starz series Survivor’s Remorse, the Bleacher Report spinoff “Uninterrupted”, and numerous other forays TV, major motion picture and documentary storytelling.

The Shop Featuring LeBron James, Draymond Green, 2 Chainz And Guests | ESPN

Beats by Dre hosted LeBron James, Draymond Green, 2 Chainz and special guests at a local New Orleans barbershop during All-Star weekend to talk the NBA, Olympics, music, football and more. Produced by UNINTERRUPTED.

“About 12 years ago when I decided to part ways with my agent, there were 150 million articles about how I was making a mistake to hire the people around me that I trusted: Maverick, Rich and Randy and start LRMR and how everything would fall to pieces,” James once said. “Those pieces have made a beautiful portrait at this point.”

Harvard Business School professor Anita Elberse wrote a case study and book chapter about LeBron’s new business model, saying “This is the future of sports and sports marketing. I think what these guys are doing are leading ways for many others.”

At the Shadow League, we celebrate the games and what happens in between the lines. But we also go deeper to examine the game behind the game. 

And right about now, very few can lay claim to the power moves being orchestrated by Maverick Carter, on some clear and present Black History, in real time.

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