It’s been over a month since L.A.’s final game of the 2020-21 season, when LeBron James addressed basketball reporters to sum up his 18th NBA season.
On July 12, we heard from LeBron in a different medium, when he went on the “Smartless” podcast hosted by some stars in the acting world – Jason Bateman, Sean Hayes and Will Arnett – just a few days ahead of the premier of LeBron’s new movie, “Space Jam – A New Legacy”.
Below are some notable quotes from the appearance, including his thoughts on the G.O.A.T debate, when he first realized he could make it as a basketball player, his I Promise Academy, “Space Jam” and how long he envisions himself playing for the Lakers:
On if the constant ‘G.O.A.T.’ debate gets exhausting:
LeBron: It can be exhausting, you said it, but I’ve always looked at it like any time you’re compared or you’re even mentioned with the greats to ever play this game, it’s become humbling for me, because the same people they put me in the category with … are the same guys that I looked up to for inspiration when I was growing up. And I needed that inspiration growing up in the inner city here in Akron, Ohio. So to have the Michael Jordans’, the Kobe Bryants’, the Ken Griffey Jrs’, the Deion Sanders’, all those unbelievable sports figures when I needed it, they helped me. So it’s like, ‘Wow, you guys are comparing me to these greatest players that I’ve ever seen when I was growing up. It’s humbling, man.
On when he first realized he had a realistic chance of making it as a basketball player:
LeBron: The beginning of my junior year, I was 16 years old, and I was on the cover of ‘Sports Illustrated,’ and they dubbed me “The Chosen One” at 16. So a lot of NBA execs were talking and saying that if I entered the (NBA) Draft right now, I could be the No. 1 pick. So I felt like I seen the success I was having, and the reason I knew I wanted to come back and give back to my community was because I knew the success that I was having, yes, it had to do with my abilities and my talent and me putting in the work, but the support that I had from my coaches and my friends and my mom. They stayed on my ass every day like, ‘Listen, this is what we’re doing. We have an opportunity to make this bigger than even what other people are saying. So let’s now (mess) it up.’
On the emphasis of other areas besides just sports for kids at the I Promise School:
LeBron: At my school, we don’t even have a basketball complex. We have an art room, we have a music lab, a technology lab. Every single day we’re asking our kids, ‘What do you want to do,’ and a lot of them say sports, but a lot of them say ‘I want to be a doctor,’ so we have doctors that come in and talk to our kids. A lot of them say a cop, so we got cops at the front door when they walk in that are so kind to our kids and they can talk to them and give them guidance. (We ask) ‘What are your dreams? What do you want to be?’ We all had dreams about what we wanted to be, and if it’s something that they have passion about, we try to bring it to the school and try to give them the resources. And you might fail at that first one, so let’s try it again, or let’s try something else. That’s all about being a kid. And my whole thing is just to give them the resources to be able to tap into whatever they want to do.
On his worst injury:
LeBron: I tore my groin two years ago playing on Christmas Day in Golden State … I could not keep playing … it was over with.
On if there’s something surprising about him, like, he enjoys classical music:
LeBron: You know what’s funny that you say that, I love classical music. If you happen to pull up to the side of me when I’m not in the dark, dark tint car, you could catch me at a (traffic) light listening to some old Beethoven or Mozart … (but before the game) I’m listening to something to get the blood flowing a little more, for sure. It changes. I’m listening to a lot of hardcore hip hop. Either Wu Tang, or some early DMX, some N.W.A. or even Eminem when he was doing his thing at a high level. I tap into a whole other mode … I’m not the father at home with the kids LeBron when I tap into that mode. I’m like, get the hell of my way, I’m ready for war.
On “Space Jam – A New Legacy”:
LeBron: It’s totally different from the first one that came out 25 years ago. When the script came to me and I set it on my desk, I was very intimidated, just because I understand the legacy behind the first one. I was one that was in awe of it – I was 11 or 12 years old, loved the Looney Tunes, my aspiration for Michael Jordan was out of this world, so very intimidated. But I was able to get myself to a point where, ‘I want to do this.’ I felt like the “Space Jam” Legacy is so iconic and so great, I wanted to be a part of the legacy. I worked with a great director, Malcolm Lee; Don Cheadle was in the film as well – I love him, he helped me out a lot when we were on set. I just dove into it. I gave everything to it … it’s a family movie with a lot of laughs.
On how long he sees himself playing for the Lakers:
LeBron: I truly hope that I can finish my career with the Lakers. How many years that is, if it’s four, five, six, whatever, seven, I hope I can continue to play the game. I love being in L.A., my family loves being in L.A. Being with a historical franchise like the Lakers is something ... It’s like me being in “Space Jam” … I never thought it would be possible. You think about Kareem, and Magic, and Wilt, and Jerry West and Elgin Baylor, Kobe, Shaq and all of them, the whole list goes on.