Kimberly flew to Akron because, as His people relayed via text at around ten-thirty last night in a btw kind of way, “He” didn’t want to get on a plane. He didn’t want to fly Atlanta.
Sitting in first class at the bleary hour of 4:30 a.m. and with her staff seated many rows back in coach; Kimberly had a moment to reflect on the whole notion of selflessness. Early in her career, Kimberly discovered that the trick was to make herself invisible, or nearly invisible when dealing with celebrities. This strategy was doubly true when negotiating with the next Brand Ambassador. The bigger the celebrity, the smaller she became.
Despite all the books she read and speeches she gave on the topic, this form of selflessness still left a bad taste in her mouth. Her personal life, for instance, was a caldron of clashing egos. She tried to tamp down her invincible opinions and expectations about how dates should go, but the long hours at her desk suppressing any natural expression of selfhood, had a way of exploding in a barrage of expletives as soon as she left the building.
Her personal life seemed to deteriorate in direct opposition to her rise in the heady and competitive field of celebrity endorsements. Having survived the Paula Abdul scandal, the Kobe Bryant assault case, even the Bill Cosby inferno, Kimberly knew how to handle not only the famous, but critically, the self-important Handlers that swarmed around celebrities. The Nervous Nelly whose job pivoted on his/her ability to find the impossible, say, a bottle of genuine Vermont Maple Syrup in Abu Dhabi or fresh oysters (not canned or smoked) in landlocked Racine, Wisconsin at three in the morning. The stories the Handlers shared with Kimberly on set by way of apologizing for their compulsive hyper vigilance was always a good sign. It meant she had won over the Great One’s team, which, when ignored, had the power to squash a deal.
In her bag, Kimberly carried two thermoses. One was Sprite laced with strawberry; the second was flavored with cherry. Not wild cherry, the Chemists were quick to note, but rather simple sugar cherry. Both thermoses were specially designed to retain the fizz and pop, so that when Kimberly decanted the two drinks, LeBron would be suitably impressed.
Kimberley’s flight was delayed. By the time she arrived at LeBron James’ office, her blood sugar had slid dangerously towards shaky. Having no choice but to draw attention to herself, she asked for orange juice. LeBron and her OJ arrived roughly at the same time. The two thermoses were opened with great fanfare. But LeBron didn’t like either option.
To Kimberly, it seemed like game over. Desperate for sugar, she snatched the thermos filled with cherry flavor, tossed in some OJ for good measure and gulped it. LeBron, insulted that she was drinking from his thermos, downed it, as if to assert his primary role in this exchange.
And he liked it.
And then he endorsed it.