Space Jam 2. HBO Show. Pizza shop. School for the underprivileged. English Premiere League partial team owner. Basketball legend. What doesn’t LeBron do?
Investing mogul, Warren Buffett, has even been quoted praising LeBron for his financial maturity in saying “…in addition to a lot of other talents, he has a money mind. And he gets stuff.”
LeBron’s move to the Lakers has undoubtedly benefited his business aspirations outside of basketball, but what has been the impact on the court? The Lakers currently sit in 10th place in the Western Conference; out of range to make it to the playoffs. The Laker’s young roster is not secret to anyone who tunes into the NBA; and was known to LeBron when he made the decision to sign with the Lakers.
The Laker’s Saturday loss to New Orleans and Monday’s loss to the Memphis Grizzlies sparked some controversy in the sports world as LeBron questioned his teammates’ focus and sense of urgency at this point in the season along with the need for greater consistency. Anyone who watched the games could ask him the same question as he demonstrated clear frustration and poor body language and failed to get back and play much defense. Mind you, in the very same games youngsters Brandon Ingram and Kyle Kuzma put up strong numbers across the board, accounting for 54 of the 105 points in Monday’s loss to Grizzlies and 45 of 115 points in Saturday’s loss to the Pelicans. In addition to the team’s mediocre record, increased trade rumors, particularly around the free agency status of star-forward Anthony Davis, has increased tension in the Staples Center. Last night’s rebound win over the Pelicans may have boosted team spirits, but the Laker’s record still sits below .500 at 30-31.
So, my question is, “Where is LeBron’s focus? Is he getting a pass no other player would because he’s LeBron?”
As I think about LeBron and the Lakers, I think about our industry as well. Do certain managers get a pass on current performance because of their brand or past performance? Does a known superstar’s performance, both positive or negative create a bias and thus outshine or delude those up-and-coming? How do you construct a team, or client portfolio, to accomplish long-term goals with the many distractions available in today’s world?
The answer to these questions depends on who’s being asked. However, I believe a common theme may arise: Conviction. There’s no question of Ingram’s conviction as he sits next to Kobe as the youngest Laker with three straight 25-point games. This conviction holds true in fund performance. Managers that have conviction in their process, both on the buy and sell side, or in their quantitative methods, are less likely to be rattled after a bit of lackluster performance. In terms of portfolio construction, given proper due diligence, client education and understanding of how the investment fits into the long-term portfolio goals, there should be no question on if its belonging.
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