Now that the NFL owners and players have finally decided how to split up the billions of dollars the league generates every year, sports fans can turn their scorn toward the NBA players and owners, who are trying to set a new standard for sloth and indolence.

Although it is still too early to call a winner, so far it looks like the NBA players are clearly losing the battle of public perception. According to Dave D'Alessandro, who covers the NBA for the New Jersey Star Ledger, this is due to the failure of the players to clearly define their brand.

D’Alessandro writes that “The players have concluded that they’re best served by curling up in a fetal position and playing defense like the Knicks, or by essentially keeping their mouths shut until they are force-fed their inscrutable fate.” He points out that while many NBA players make significant contributions to their community, they are not doing a good job of getting that message out. Instead we see them being arrested, selling products, and hanging out with celebrities.  

Carmelo Anthony was on “Law & Order.” Amar’e Stoudemire flew to China to sell more shoes made by Indonesian hut people earning $1.25 a day. Kris Humphries was married to someone who is famous for literally doing nothing relevant.”

D’Alessandro suggests that instead of whining about how they are going to survive the lockout minus their multi-million dollar salaries (a message that 9 million unemployed Americans find hard to swallow), they should be developing community based programs that tell a more positive story about who they are and what they stand for. 

“Send each guy back to his neighborhoods once a week. Pick a day and give free clinics in every city in the U.S. Refurbish playgrounds. Look into the cameras and say, ‘As long we have all this free time, we want to help.’ Build the player equity. Demand that the union wise up and enhance the brand.

Sometimes brands need to recognize an opportunity when it presents itself. The NBA players have a chance to redefine their brand, to change the perception that they are spoiled brats and create a new brand that says we are grateful for the chance to help the world be a better place. 

If your brand is suffering from a lack of clarity or an unfavorable perception, take the time to examine that brand and determine how to better tell your story. Don’t let others determine how people see you. Make sure you tell your story before someone else tells it for you.     

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