Samsung pitch man LeBron James gives teammates Apple Watches

Technically Incorrect: He's busily embroiled in the NBA Finals, but he knows how to look after his fellow Cavaliers. A touch odd for a longtime Samsung spokesman?

Chris Matyszczyk
3 min read

Technically Incorrect offers a slightly twisted take on the tech that's taken over our lives.

The depressing sight of LeBron James celebrating after Game 2. NBA/YouTube screenshot by Chris Matyszczyk/CNET

Who's more miserable right now? Golden State Warriors fans or Samsung executives?

On Sunday night, my Warriors were aberationally abject in ceding victory in Game 2 of the NBA Finals to LeBron James and his limping, and now laughing, Cavaliers.

However, it has emerged that before the series started, James gathered his team in a spirit-bonding exercise and presented them with gifts.

Cleveland.com reports that the event happened at the Four Seasons Hotel in San Francisco. At the end of this no-doubt deeply uplifting affair, he gave them all Apple Watches.

You might think this was a touching, generous gesture. Your average Samsung executive might think: "Oh, for God's sake. Why did he have to do that?"

James, you see, has been a Samsung spokesman for a while.

However, I heard from a rep for the great star who "clarified" that that the Apple Watches were gifts from Beats to the team and that James gave each team member a Samsung Galaxy S6 Edge.

Some, on hearing this might emit a snortle. This is a word I just made up that represents a mix of a snort and a chortle.

James has appeared in many ads for Samsung. Doesn't he know that Samsung also makes watches? Or could it be that all his teammates have iPhones, so why buy them something they can't use?

"He's one hell of a teammate," center Tristan Thompson said, according to Cleveland.com. "He takes care of his team. He takes care of us with Beats, Samsungs. Everything that he's part of that he can give for the team, he's done that all the time and it shows how much he cares for us."

Some will poo-poo this whole thing by saying that James is a well-known endorser of Beats headphones, now owned by Apple. But he's been advertising those for a long time. Here's a 2008 ad where he's wearing Beats phones and is described as, um, a warrior.

Perhaps James is just above and beyond the concerns of the average marketer or the average superstar. He does his thing and he doesn't care what you might think.

Indeed, last year he took to Twitter to complain that his Galaxy phone had suddenly erased everything on it, so perhaps Samsung executives are merely grateful to have him sometimes on their side.

Still, when asked about the watches, James replied: "I've been fortunate enough to work with some great partners and whatever I get, I like to share with my teammates. It's just my way of showing them that I care."

One might infer, therefore that James sees Apple as a partner too.

Apple is certainly looking to enjoy the NBA Finals. The company pointed out at its Worldwide Developers conference on Monday that Apple Pay -- which works on the Apple Watch -- is accepted at both the Oracle Arena in Oakland and the Quicken Loans Arena in Cleveland.

As far as I'm concerned it's nice that James can partner with both Apple and Samsung. What an example he is to the rest of society. Can he and Microsoft CEO Satya Nadella lead us all away from partisanship toward a caring, sharing tech world?

What a thought. Regretfully, I am unable to feel like sharing a win with him on Tuesday night in Game 3.

Update, 7:43 p.m. PT: with information from LeBron James' camp.