LeBron James isn’t just a basketball player– he’s a brand.
Beyond the court, he’s a major brand ambassador with Nike and is at the helm of his own media network called UNINTERRUPTED. Anyone, including casual fans of James, are aware of the More Than An Athlete phrase he frequently uses, and now its origin is being called into question. A Maryland youth organization is pursuing legal action against the Los Angeles Laker and the suit also names Nike, ESPN and Take-Two Interactive Software Inc., the maker of NBA 2K for using the phrase.
The group, named Game Plan Inc., is seeking $33 million and claims that they trademarked the “I Am More Than An Athlete” June 2016 and used it on a t-shirt while attending a Washington Wizards game on October 8, 2017. Funny enough, the Wizards were taking on the Cavaliers, the team that Bron played on before signing a contract with the Los Angeles Lakers. According to ESPN, the complaint also states that a group of players had their pictures taken with Wizards point guard John Wall.
“The attendance at the game gave Game Plan tremendous exposure, as it was able to gain attention from John Wall in front of his peers including the (arguably) most famous athlete in the world, as a member of the Cleveland Cavaliers, at the time, LeBron James,” the lawsuit states.
UNINTERRUPTED has since released a statement, claiming that the suit is pretty much fake news.
“The complaint filed by Game Plan today is meritless and contains numerous factual inaccuracies. UNINTERRUPTED owns prior rights in and to the ‘More Than An Athlete’ trademark,” UNINTERRUPTED said in a statement to TMZ.
James started using the statement as early as 2018 after he was infamously told to “shut up and dribble,” by Fox News anchor Laura Ingraham as she expressed how uninterested she was in hearing political advice from “someone who gets paid $100 million a year to bounce a ball.”