John Salley: Promote Young NBA Stars like Morant, Not Veterans like LeBron

Exploring John Salley's career shift from NBA to Hollywood.

by Nouman Rasool
John Salley: Promote Young NBA Stars like Morant, Not Veterans like LeBron
© Leon Bennett/Getty Images

Retired NBA star John Salley recently voiced his perspective on the presence of older players in the league, suggesting a potential impact on the NBA's business strategy. Salley, a key player for the Detroit Pistons during his prime, acknowledged the allure of continuing in the sport but highlighted the commercial implications.

Salley, speaking on VladTV, stressed the importance of marketing younger talents like Ja Morant over veterans such as LeBron James. "It’s not good for the league to have old players still hanging around. It takes away from the advertisement...You’re trying to sell Ja Morant’s sneakers, not Bron’s," the 59-year-old expressed.

His viewpoint underscores a shifting focus in sports marketing, where the spotlight often shifts towards emerging stars.

Salley's Strategic Retirement

Salley's own career decision to retire at 36, while playing for the Los Angeles Lakers, was a strategic move that coincided with the peak of his career.

Despite contemplating an extension into his 40s, akin to Kareem Abdul-Jabbar, Salley opted to explore opportunities beyond the court. "I had a late-night talk show on BET, and that’s what I always wanted...I wanted to come to Hollywood," he shared, revealing his aspirations in entertainment and production post-basketball.

The conversation shifts to the current state of the NBA, particularly focusing on LeBron James, who, at 39, continues to exhibit remarkable prowess on the court. LeBron's situation presents a unique dilemma: his individual performance is undeniable, yet the team's overall performance, with a 25-25 win-loss record, sparks debate about the effectiveness of retaining veteran players.

The Los Angeles Lakers' approach to LeBron's future is a topic of speculation, especially considering his player option post-season. Rumors of potential trades have been dispelled by his agent, Rich Paul, but the question remains: Will LeBron's eventual retirement be a turning point for the NBA? This debate reflects the broader conversation about balancing the promotion of young talent against the proven appeal of veteran players, a strategic decision that could shape the future trajectory of the league.