LeBron James owns the message

Politicians are clamming up, Politico says, because they’re worried about becoming the next YouTube sensation.  Candidates are refusing to talk to camera-wielding activist journalists.  With more communications channels than ever, politicians are opting not to use them:

“The irony is that in an political environment in which voters are demanding authenticity, candidates find themselves in a technological environment that exploits authenticity,” lamented Mark McKinnon, a longtime political strategist and top adviser to George W. Bush and John McCain. “So rather than show more of themselves as voters want, candidates are showing less of themselves for fear of revealing too much.”

This is probably better than speaking off the cuff and apologizing for gaffes, but it isn’t a winning strategy.   These would-be-elected-officials would do well to take their advice from a monarch: King LeBron James, the most popular man in sports, and the subject of a much-criticized special on ESPN in a couple hours.

When James’ decision on where to play next year is finally revealed tonight, a new chapter will start in his professional life – not only as the signature star of the NBA, but as a player expected to win a championship.  Joel Sherman of the New York Post likens James’ situation to that of Alex Rodriguez, who used to be the best player ever to not win a championship. He’ll have plenty of questions, and will be the closest thing the sports world has to a politician for a week.

That’s why the ESPN special is a fantastic idea.

James is announcing his signing in an hour long special, and according to ESPN radio this morning, the big news will come in the first 15 minutes.  That means there will be 45 minutes where James will discuss his decision in the controlled, traditional, and respectful environment of ESPN.  That discussion will fuel tomorrow’s bloggers and drive-time hosts, and will extend into weekend coverage.

And most of it will echo the things James wants out there.  He’s answering demand by engaging in media overload.  In doing so, the King will rule over the message.

Now, if only LeBron would take control of the Knicks in the same way…