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Apple May Pit Kobe vs. Samsung's LeBron for 'Cool'

NEW YORK (TheStreet) -- It's been a week since Matthew Garrahan and Tim Bradshaw of the Financial Times reported that Apple (AAPL - Get Report) was "closing in" on a $3.2 billion deal for headphone maker Beats Electronics. If true, this would make it Apple's largest-ever acquisition.

Although neither company has confirmed they've even had discussions, everyone else has formed an opinion on why it would or would not be a sound strategy for Apple. Regardless of where you stand on this rumor, one thing is certain; Apple, like its own moto, will think different.

But I was still unprepared for what I read this morning by 9TO5Mac's Seth Weintraub. The article claims that Los Angeles Lakers superstar shooting guard Kobe Bryant and his wife were spotted on Apple's Infinite Loop campus in California to meet with Apple's design chief Jony Ive and his team about upcoming products.

Since launching its "next big thing" campaign, which has done significant damage to Apple's cache, Samsung (SSNLF) has been closely tied to the National Basketball Association. Samsung has arguably the NBA's best player, LeBron James, in its corner. The four-time MVP and two-time world champion even has his own "LeBron app," which was launched exclusively for Samsung devices.

By its association with the NBA, Samsung is seen as "cool."  Apple, on the other hand, has been criticized for being "too corporate." Apple's drive to change its image is what likely lead to the departure of Katie Cotton, Apple's senior vice president for worldwide communications, who announced last week that she is retiring after 18 years.

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