Is the reputation monkey off of LeBron James' back?
For those of us in the reputation management business, last night's win of the NBA Championship by the Miami Heat brings this question to the forefront.
Since his PR nightmare began two years ago with The Decision to move to Miami, James has been the focus of intense criticism and even hatred by a huge number of fans. His failure to win last year's championship, despite a 2-1 lead in the finals, only compounded the problem.
Now that he has won a championship, will this silence his critics? The simple answer is: NO. James and Miami unfortunately violated a key rule of reputation and, indeed, life: under promise and over deliver. Put more simply, lower expectations.
With a huge fanfare announcement the dream team's arrival in Miami, LeBron famously promised in the video above "Not one, not two..." but more than seven championships. Elsewhere he used the word "easy" to win the championships.
So, clearly, even with his decisive win, LeBron's critics will feel justified to continue piling on.
LeBron should justifiably savor this victory and then seek advice on this opportunity to communicate with new, more compelling messages and actions. James has a certain following of loyal fans and he can't move the extreme haters, but he has the opportunity to reshape the attitudes of those in the middle.
Without that kind of strategic communications, LeBron's road to reputation redemption will be a long one.