By Anne E. Stein
At least when it comes to business, Cleveland Cavaliers forward LeBron James is something of a multi-sport athlete. The 22-year-old NBA star has purchased an undisclosed ownership stake in the bicycle manufacturer Cannondale, the company announced this week.
The 6 foot 8 inch James is no stranger to the bike, according to a Cannondale spokesman. James, a number-one draft pick by the Cavaliers in 2003, spends a lot of time riding in the off-season and organizes the annual “King for Kids Bike-a-thon” in Akron, Ohio, a fundraiser designed to generate funds for local single mothers and their children.
For last summer’s bike-a-thon, Cannondale built a custom bike for James based on its Caffeine model, with a 29er frame painted in the Cavs’ red and gold team colors. The bike sports a Lefty fork and Si Hollowgram cranks.
“He goes on one-to-three hour rides rides on our bike in Ohio in the summer,” says David Budd, director of marketing for Cannondale. “He doesn’t just ride down to the mailbox.”
This isn’t the first business venture for James, who will earn $5.8 million this season, $12.4 million next season and $13.7 million in 2008-09. Last year his company, LRMR Innovative Marketing & Branding, invested in a $4.7 milllion townhome project in Cleveland’s Glenville neighborhood, according to The Cleveland Plain Dealer.
“We’re very excited to have LeBron as an owner,” noted Cannondale CEO Matt Mannelly, in a written statement issued Monday. “In addition, LeBron is one of the world’s most accomplished athletes and we are proud to provide him with bicycles for his cross-training. LeBron is an astute entrepreneur and investor who recognizes the quality of our products and value of our business, and he will certainly extend the awareness of the benefits of cycling to more people.”
James’ 3rd King for Kids Bike-a-thon is scheduled for Saturday, June 30, in Akron. Last year he was joined by fellow hoopsters Amare Stodemire, Rip Hamilton, Chris Paul and Dwyane Wade. The effort raised nearly $400,000 was raised, with proceeds going to the Akron YMCA, Akron Urban League and the James Family Foundation. Cannondale is a sponsor of the ride and donates bikes for a charity auction.
LRMR CEO Maverick Carter characterized the Cannondale deal as “the perfect fit for LeBron and LRMR as we continue to invest in companies that are leading, cutting-edge brands.”