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LeBron criticized for profanity-laced speech at Cavs parade

By Marla Ridenour • Jun 25, 2016 at 6:00 PM

LeBron James has been criticized for his profanity-laced speech that offended parents and fans Wednesday after the Cavaliers' NBA championship parade.

But Cuyahoga Falls native R.J. Nemer, who rose from self-started ICON Sports Management in Stow to his recent promotion to global head of golf clients for International Management Group, doesn't believe James needs to apologize.

James' 16-minute speech at the rally at Mall B in Cleveland included 13 expletives, including two uses of the f-word. There was immediate reaction on Twitter, with WKYC-TV Channel 3 director Frank Macek tweeting it was "very low class" and that the station had "several viewer complaints."

The Federal Communications Commission could investigate if a formal complaint is filed because profanity is prohibited between 6 a.m. and 10 p.m. Some stations broadcasting the rally did not use a five-second delay to catch such language. The festivities drew an estimated one million people downtown.

One of Nemer's co-workers asked the question on the minds of many on the way to Nemer's Akron Roundtable speech Thursday at Quaker Station.

"(He) said, 'If he's our client, would you tell him to issue an apology right now?' " Nemer said.

"I've been not on that same stage, but I had one client who ripped a locker off its hinges. We've dealt with these types of things before," Nemer said. "I think right now for LeBron the tolerance level, the level of forgiveness we're willing to extend to him is probably at an all-time high. In the heat of the moment, literally and figuratively, he probably didn't exercise his best judgment. So I think that for this particular scenario I probably wouldn't address it."

James had the opportunity to do so at a celebration hosted by Akron and the LeBron James Family Foundation at Lock 3 Park Thursday night.

Nemer said he has tremendous respect for what James has accomplished and called what he's done for the community "remarkable." So the graduate the University of Akron (undergraduate and law school) is willing to overlook the profanity because of the circumstances.

"I've been around enough players when they just win, it's like things are spinning around," Nemer said. "We're all human. You kind of come out of this with, 'What just happened? What did I say? Everything happened so quickly.' He's been there for three hours, it's hot, his kids are there, people are screaming. To be on all the time is hard and sometimes you're going to make a slip. I think we just need to cut him some slack."

Nemer will host his annual party at an Akron restaurant during next week's Bridgestone Invitational at Firestone Country Club. IMG's most high-profile clients are Henrik Stenson and Ian Poulter. Its most recent addition is Robby Shelton, a three-time All-American at the University of Alabama.

Nemer has another thing in common with James besides his Northeast Ohio roots and their affiliation with William Morris Endeavor, the Hollywood talent agency that owns IMG and signed James in 2014 to develop film and entertainment projects.

Nemer said he has what he loosely terms a friendship with Warren Buffett, CEO of Berkshire Hathaway and one of the wealthiest men in the world. James met Buffett 10 years ago and Buffett remains a mentor and advisor.

Nemer's first encounter with Buffett came in 2001, when he was invited into his office for lunch and the two spent about an hour together. When asked for his coolest sports agent experience, Nemer told the story.

"It was amazing," Nemer said, admitting he still calls the business magnate "Mr. Buffett."

"Any time I've spent with him since then is one of the most inspired times you can imagine," Nemer said. "What's really unique about him, you will literally and genuinely and authentically feel like you're the most interesting person he's ever met in his life. Logically speaking, I know that's not the case. When I talk to him, that's how he makes you feel.

"Every time I walk away I say, 'I hope I can glean that skill from him.' I think the ability to make people feel fantastic in your presence would not only be great for your career, but probably your relationship with your spouse and your kids and your friends."

(c)2016 Akron Beacon Journal (Akron, Ohio)

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