If it’s not already eminently clear from the entirety of this week on BallerBall, VOSS Water and the NBA have an undeniable connection. Until recently, no one knew just how deep that connection actually went. Over the last two months, BallerBall’s crack Undercover Investigation squad has uncovered a shocking story about the true origins of the VOSS Water company. The following is a day-by-day account of that story. All names have been changed to enhance their Norwegian-ness. Be warned, this story may shock you.
June 15th, 2014
Magnus Johansen, CEO of VOSS Water, walked with his head down and teeth clenched out of the arena into the humid Texas night. The Miami Heat had just lost the NBA Finals to the San Antonio Spurs. The best player on the planet, LeBron James, had just finished his fourth straight NBA Finals. As it had been four years earlier in Cleveland, James had been let down by his teammates. Four years ago, LeBron’s disillusionment had led to the creation of VOSS Water and tens of millions of dollars for Mr. Johansen. LeBron’s current discontentment, on the other hand, threatened to destroy VOSS Water altogether.
He reached into his pocket for his cell phone and dialed his business partner, Jonas Hansen. Hansen answered grimly, “We have a problem.”
“No %$#@” Johansen responded. “He’s going back to Cleveland.”
“No…he can’t. Can he? Would he?” Hansen rambled incredulously.
Johansen replied, “I’ve seen that look in his eye before. Remember when he walked off the floor in Boston four years ago? I knew it then and I know now. He’s going to leave and he must be stopped.”
“Well you may be right. Production is already down 32% at the factory.” Hansen said frankly.
“We have to stop him. I’ll call you soon.” With that Johansen hung up and got into his town car. Back in Norway, Hansen slumped back in his chair and stared at the monitor on his desk. A young man, no more than 17 years old, sat softly sobbing in a chair staring at a television.
“We can’t let this happen” Hansen thought to himself.
In the basement of VOSS Water headquarters, a young American name Stevie Jacobs sat staring at a television. As he did everyday, he watched LeBron James talk about taking his talents to South Beach over and over again. Tears streamed from his eyes into a bowl sitting on the floor in front of him. He had long since lost track of time, but Stevie had been here for more than four years. Taken from his home in suburban Cleveland, Stevie was forced to watch “The Decision” day after day on a perpetual loop. As lifelong Cavs and LeBron fan, this video always brought Stevie to tears. Everyday, a non-descript scientist-looking guy would collect his bowl of tears and replace it with an empty one to be filled the next day. Little did Stevie know that his tears and the tears of countless other imprisoned Cavs fans were collected at this secret facility to be bottled and sold as VOSS Water.
June 23rd, 2014
At his office in Cleveland, Rich Paul was going through a stack of documents his assistant had prepared for him. About half way through, he came across an endorsement proposal from VOSS Water. He scanned the document, only vaguely aware of the brand and thinking it beneath his client. His eyes stopped dead in their tracks and hovered over a number at the bottom of the page.
He picked up his phone and made a call. “Hey Bron, I got something you gotta see.”
July 1st, 2014
With free agency about to begin, LeBron James wouldn’t normally attend a meeting about an endorsement deal in person. But $25 million from a global brand on the rise was enough money to command his attention. He sat with the rest of his team on one side of a long conference table as the mysterious Norwegians detailed their proposal. It all sounded great. Sure their accents were comical, but there money was still green. And that’s a lot of green.
“We are very excited about being in the LeBron James business” Hansen concluded.
“Well we are happy to hear that. Where do we go from here?” Paul inquired.
“Before we execute the deal, there’s just one more thing. Our deal is contingent on LeBron staying in Miami.” Johansen said coldly.
“Excuse me?” Paul responded
“You heard what I said,” replied Magnus.
“What team my client plays for is none of your concern. LeBron James is a global icon. The color of his jersey shouldn’t matter to you. It certainly doesn’t matter to any of our other endorsement partners. If you don’t mind my asking, where do you get off telling us our business?”
Magnus responded with an eerie calm, “Our business depends on Mr. James remaining in Miami. Adhering to his ‘Decision’ if you will.”
“This meeting is over” Paul exclaimed.
As his team ushered LeBron to the door Johansen apologized and asked to have a word in private with LeBron.
When they were alone, Johansen opened his laptop and showed LeBron a live feed of the VOSS Water factory. LeBron watched in horror as Johansen detailed his entire dastardly operation. When he was finished, LeBron sat in stunned confusion. “I’ll go to the police.”
“Your police can’t even find Norway on a map. And even if they could, who would believe you?” He flashed a cynical smile. “If you go back to Cleveland, our supply is dead. I can’t let that happen. If you return to the Cavaliers, I will abandon these people in their cells. What happens to them then is on you.”
“You’re a monster” Lebron said.
“No, I’m a monster who wants to pay you $25 million. That makes all the difference in the world. Good day Mr. James.”
July 10th, 2014
It had been nine days since Magnus Johansen had threatened LeBron. James had not slept well in the intervening days. He had tried to manage his stress with extra workouts, but his worrying could not be stopped. He sat in his favorite arm chair and stared straight ahead. He thought of the fans in those cells, sitting and staring the same way. He thought of the heartbreak and tears his decision to leave Cleveland was causing them, even all these years later. He thought about the personal pain he felt having been away from his home for so long, and all the fans still in Cleveland who would remain forever heartbroken if he stayed in Miami.
A terrible decision was bearing down upon him. He hated decisions with no chance for a win-win. But in the last four years, he had learned to embrace them. LeBron knew exactly what knew what he had to do. He picked up the phone and dialed. “Hey Lee. It’s a go.”
July 11th, 2014
Magnus Johansen awoke in his vast and expensive ice mansion feeling smugly satisfied with himself. He went downstairs and made breakfast, non-fair trade coffee and a salted cod omelet with lingenberry jam. He opened his laptop to see if anyone had reported on VOSS Water’s new deal with LeBron. He typed “LeBron” into Google and 0.32 seconds later, his coffee cup fell from his hand and shattered on the table. ‘I’m coming back to Cleveland” the headline read. Johansen clicked on the link and saw a picture of LeBron in a black suit, with his hands clasped in front of him. He was staring directly in Johansen’s soul. Magnus pick up his laptop and threw it against the icy wall. He collapsed into his chair and quietly wept, his tears falling onto his baby seal skin robe. It was over.
Back at the factory, all hell had broken loose. The power had gone out in a hail of sparks. The security system had mysteriously failed. Production in the factory had totally ceased. With his TV feed no longer playing “The Decision” and cell door no longer locked, Stevie Jacobs stepped outside into the hallway. He was met by several other people with whom he felt an undeniable connection despite never having met them before. They made their way to an emergency exit and stepped in the bright sun of the Norwegian summer. Stevie’s tattered maroon and gold #23 jersey had seen better days, but it and he had survived. It was time to go home.