LeBron James is engaged a battle in the middle of the 2017 NBA Playoffs. They are up 2-0 against the Toronto Raptors in the second round but it seems like "The King" has another battle in his hands. James and his associates are thinking about suing Great Lakes Brewing Company for using his image in advertising.
In an interview with Cleveland.com, James revealed that his personal team is considering taking legal action against Great Lakes. NBA players are prohibited from endorsing alcohol and he did not like how the brewing company used his image to promote their Dortmunder Gold.
"This is about the last thing I'm trying to worry about right now, my agent and my legal team will take care of it, but yeah I know (Great Lakes) is trying to benefit off of me. And I heard they were the same company that made all those 'Quitness' beers, and now they're trying to benefit off me this way? Yeah, it's pretty funny," James said.
The whole shenanigan started on Monday when James jokingly took a beer bottle from a vendor in the stands and tried drinking during Game 1 against the Raptors. Images and videos of it quickly circulated on the internet and Great Lakes used it to promote their product.
The brewing company offered discounts for their Dortmunder Gold pints and growlers though their Twitter account. One advertisement even had a caption that said, "G.O.A.T with the G.O.L.D." However, it's a little too close for comfort for Great Lakes since they tried profiting off of James' departure in 2010 with "Quitness," pale ale from India that leaves a bitter aftertaste.
Sources told Cleveland.com that Great Lakes Brewing Company is looking at a potential $2 million lawsuit. James and his camp are unhappy because NBA players are not allowed to endorse alcoholic beverages and using James' image on the beer product can hurt his image, per ESPN.
Sports law expert Don E. Gibson told For The Win that James has a big chance of winning the case if ever the legal battle proceeds. He noted that there are several mistakes made by Great Lakes Brewing Company that can be used against them.
"First, by retweeting the photo, you have a copyright issue, which is the rights of the photographer who took the photo. So, you have that issue, and you have LeBron James' right of publicity. And that's where the issue comes in here. Fair use is defined in circumstances where you're reporting news or facts. You're not using the graphic or the content for any panel of commercial purposes," Gibson said.
"Using the image as a means of inducing customers to come to their venue to purchase their product at a discount, they have arguably violated LeBron's right of publicity. They're trading off of the goodwill associated with his image and the value of that image to bring customers to their venue for commercial purpose," he added.
Although it's a big problem for LeBron James and his associates, "The King" has to be happy with the Cavaliers' performance in the postseason. They dispatched Paul George and the Indiana Pacers in four games in the first round.
The Cavaliers are now up 2-0 on the Raptors in the second round and they are looking like their old selves after a disastrous end to the regular season. James is playing out of his mind and he is showing everyone why he is still the best player in the world at the age of 32 years old.
Game 3 of the Cavaliers-Raptors series is on Friday, May 5 while Game 4 is on Sunday, May 7. Both games will be played at the Air Canada Centre in Toronto, Canada. The Cavaliers just need two more wins to advance to their third-straight Eastern Conference Finals.