Friday, October 01, 2010

But Can Einstein Shoot the Three?

Of course, you know the basketball player in the picture. It's none other than the Knicks' Danilo Gallinari, a 22-year old from Italy who has averaged 12 points per game in his two NBA seasons. With Danilo behind them, the Knicks went 29-53 last season, finishing 32 games behind first-place Cleveland.

What you may have missed is that this week Gallinari released his autobiography. That's right ... 22-years old + 12 points per game + terrible team = autobiography.

OK, so it was released in Italy, where Gallinari is something of a celebrity and others have done it at even younger ages, including Miley Cyrus, but there's something not right here. There was a time when autobiographies (or memoirs) were written by people who had actually accomplished something. Consider also that Albert Einstein, George Washington and Mother Teresa never wrote one.

It's simply further evidence of the branding, marketing and sports celebrity culture we live in. Athletes are products, and they have to market themselves in such a way as to make their brand more profitable. Today, we don't watch athletes as much as we do international conglomerates. And as always, the credit (or blame) belongs to money and media. When athletes understand how to use one, they can reap the benefits of the other.

There's been a lot of discussion lately about the fate of the free media, which in many cases is in dire economic trouble, and many are predicting a future in which media companies will have to begin charging for online material that is now free. It's not too hard to envision a scenario in which athletes, now Tweeting and blogging for free, do the same thing.


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