This morning, in advance of the World Basketball Festival, a four-day event in New York City centered around Team USA and hugely invested in by Nike, I had a chance to speak to Nike president Charlie Denson. Denson talked, for the first time, about his reaction to LeBron's "Decision" and also about when the brand could possibly go back to using Tiger again.
Darren: Nike's official position was, it didn't matter where LeBron went.
The way it went down, what's your opinion on whether that hurt his marketability or not?
Denson: LeBron's announcement was one of the highlights of the summer.
Everybody was looking forward to it.
It certainly represented basketball on center stage even in the offseason. I think with what they've done — teaming up with Dwyane and Chris and the rest of the crew in Miami is going to make this year pretty interesting for the NBA.
"The opportunity to work with Dwyane and LeBron on the same team —Jordan and Nike brand together. I think we'll have some fun with that."
Darren: The championships are important. I know Dwyane is a Jordan guy. You own him too. The fact that (LeBron) went to that team and is not alone. His marketability isn't hurt at all?
Denson: "I actually think it brings everybody to the game more so than ever before to see what's going to happen. The opportunity to work with Dwyane and LeBron on the same team —Jordan and Nike brand together. I think we'll have some fun with that.
Darren: Let's talk a little bit about Tiger Woods. Obviously you guys haven't brought him back into the fold yet. When would be the point that you would bring him back? Are you surprised that it has taken this long?
Denson: Well no, I think the Tiger story is obviously well documented and I think with the struggles that he's having recently, we've talk about having him back on the course. That's great to see. I think some of the challenges that he's facing right now is a great opportunity to talk about what he's been able to sustain as the number one golfer in the world for so long. You know, golf is a funny game. And even the best in the world has to struggle at times. And I think next year is an opportunity for him to return to his previous form as well as our ability to use him in some of the marketing mix as we see fit.
Darren: Does that mean next year will be when you bring him back?
Denson: A lot depends on how Tiger plays. I think he'll be the first guy to tell you in so many words he has. His goals and objectives are to get back to the way that he was playing over the last decade and we're looking forward to that.
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