On Thursday, as expected, Carmelo Anthony paid a visit to the Los Angeles Lakers’ El Segundo facility to talk free agency and a future in Southern California.
With Anthony scheduled to meet the New York Knicks in LA later in the day, the Lakers’ meeting was unexpectedly moved forward. Despite earlier reports that Kobe Bryant was flying back from Greece late Wednesday night to be present, the Lakers’ superstar was unable to make the new schedule.
Once inside, Anthony spent about two and a half hours mixing with top Lakers’ brass, including team president Jeanie Buss. Of course, Lakers general manager Mitch Kupchak and co-owner Jim Buss were also present, along with Lakers business and marketing executive Tim Harris, representatives from AEG and the heads of Time Warner Cable.
Inside the facility, part of the presentation included a video by Hollywood producer Joel Silver, most famous for "The Matrix" and "V for Vendetta." From the initial leaks and the people present in the room, one can gather that the Lakers put on a marketing and branding assault on Anthony to help the 30-year-old understand what a move to Los Angeles would do for his career.
One can also safely assume the Lakers paraded their championship trophies and pointed to the historic retired jerseys on the wall. If Anthony is looking for history, personal branding and unparalleled fan support, the Lakers likely offered the former Syracuse Orangemen better than he could have imagined. However, if Anthony is interested in winning a title, the Lakers still have a long way to go.
Financially speaking, the Lakers informed Anthony that they were willing to offer him a maximum level contract at four years and $97 million, so outside of staying with the New York Knicks, Los Angeles could well be the best place for the unrestricted free agent in that sense. Adding endorsements and the global brand of the Lakers, Anthony may ultimately make more money wearing purple and gold than any other color. If that was indeed the Lakers’ pitch, it was only half of the proposal.
After the Lakers’ meeting, Anthony signed a couple autographs for fans and continued forward to meet with the Knicks, who also had their presentation in Los Angeles. However, Bryant had reportedly reached out to Anthony to meet with him later in the day, as he had been unable to arrive in time for the session at the Lakers’ facility. That meeting, undoubtedly, will not be about money, branding or marketing.
Bryant is notoriously obsessive about winning, and the one prize he values greater than any other is the NBA championship. Bryant will likely speak to Anthony about the team that can be built should the forward opt to move operations to Southern California. Bryant can explain the significance of winning in Los Angeles, the passion of the fans and the commitment of the organization.
Bryant and Anthony played together with Team USA in the Olympics, and the pair are said to be friends off the court. Should Bryant’s words resonate with Anthony, the Lakers may have inadvertently come out big time winners in the sweepstakes for ‘Melo.
With a two-part pitch, the Lakers should have been able to emphasize the vast marketing, media and branding opportunities that await Anthony in a Lakers’ jersey, but more importantly, the final word will emphasize the focused eyes on the ultimate prize: an NBA championship.