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Boardroom x SBJ Feature: Rich Kleiman on Marketing & “Non-Superstar” Athletes

Last Updated: June 27, 2021

In this week’s Boardroom and Sports Business Journal collaboration, Rich Kleiman talks about the athletes who have built their own fandoms in lieu of superstar status, and how valuable they are in marketing.

“The sports equivalent of career artists are stars in their own right, players who have worked hard to get to the highest level and who have dedicated fan bases of their own in the communities where they play and where they grew up. They may be without the traditional variety of star power, but they still capture the eyes, ears, and hearts of millions of fans and have put time in to create their own marketing lanes. Take Houston Rockets forward P.J. Tucker, for example. He’s long been known as the “sneaker king” of the NBA, but you never saw that moniker advertised. He’s even had gaps between traditional sneaker deals. Ultimately, this has worked to Tucker’s advantage. Because he didn’t have immediate access to huge shoe deals or marketing opportunities, he got creative. He became known as not just a fashion trendsetter, but as a true collector and an arbiter of taste.”

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