CLEVELAND (AP) - LeBron James thinks he can help fast friend Ted Ginn Jr. become a bigger star.
Further broadening his business portfolio, the Cavaliers' forward has signed Ginn, the former Ohio State speedster now a rookie wide receiver for the Miami Dolphins, to a marketing contract.
Ginn is the first athlete signed by LRMR Marketing, James' budding sports marketing company.
``To do this, not so much for money but to maybe get on a Sprite commercial with LeBron or anything, that'd be fun,'' Ginn said.
Ginn, who signed a five-year contract worth more than $13 million last week, said knowing James for years made the decision an easy one.
``A lot of football guys don't get a lot of marketing their first couple years coming out,'' he said. ``You've got to do big things to do that. He's been a good friend to me for the last four or five years, so the best thing for me is get involved with someone I know.''
James formed the marketing firm two years ago with childhood friends Richard Paul, Maverick Carter and Randy Mims. The company takes its name from the initials of the foursome's first names.
The group's goal was to heighten James' profile through endorsement deals and business deals. The 22-year-old star, who led Cleveland to its first NBA finals last season, is one of the world's most recognized athletes.
While not on as grand of a scale, LRMR is hoping to enhance Ginn's image with business ventures.
``We're excited about working with Ted,'' said Maverick Carter, LRMR's CEO. ``We've known him for a long time and he's someone who has the same values we do. We have a lot of respect for him and his family.''
Carter said the first step will be acquiring a shoe and apparel deal for Ginn, who skipped his senior season with the Buckeyes to turn pro. LRMR plans to sign other pro athletes, Carter added.
Ginn is excited about the chance to work with James, whom he has known for years. James has been mixing basketball and business moves for awhile.
He signed a seven-year, $90 million deal with Nike before graduating high school and he has amassed more than $150 million in endorsement contracts. Earlier this year, he launched a Web site in a partnership with Microsoft. Forbes Magazine estimated that James made $26 million from June 2005 to June 2006.
James' TV commercials for Sprite, in which he plays four different versions of himself, are extremely popular. He successfully hosted the ESPY Awards last month and will host the season premiere of ``Saturday Night Live'' in September. Last season, Ohio State's basketball team wore jerseys and shorts bearing James' logo.
From the start, James has followed a path blazed by Michael Jordan, who built a business empire during his NBA career and has grown his Air Jordan brand in retirement.
``One day, I hope LeBron could be like Jordan and I can be the first guy to come out with some LeBron cleats and things like that,'' Ginn said. ``In time, this could be like Jordan. And to be the first football guy to sign with him, that's something no one can ever take away from me.''
---
AP Sports Writer Tim Reynolds in Miami contributed to this report.
Advertisement

Top NBA Public Bets

NBA Top Stories

Thumbnail NBA Rookie of the Year Pick An intriguing NBA rookie class features one deemed “superstar” in Ben Simmons. Will he be the runaway winner of the Rookie of the Yearin the 2016-17 NBA Season?
Thumbnail Durant has theraputic Olympics The biggest free agent of the 2016 offseason is ready to join his new team as Kevin Duranthad a successful experience at the 2016 Rio...
Thumbnail GS favored as schedule released The NBA released the 2016-17 schedule earlier this week. Here is a look at the latest odds to win the NBA Finals.
Thumbnail Dallas brings in ex-Warrior to join icon When Mavericks legend Dirk Nowitzki opted out of his contract on June 21, it felt like a slight roadblock to an inevitable reunion between both sides. Little...
Thumbnail Tim Duncan retires The San Antonio Spurs lost their franchise player on Monday, as Tim Duncan elected to retire after an amazing 19-year...
More inNBA Articles  

NBA Team Pages