This NBA offseason, people quickly forgot about the San Antonio Spurs winning another championship and turned their focus to LeBron James’s free agency. His status as the best basketball player in the world seems to trump all other news in the league, but why should it be any different? LeBron James attracts a lot of viewers to the NBA, and he will continue to be one of the league’s main attractions regardless of whether he is winning championships or not.
Now that his “Decision 2.0” is over, and he has chosen to return to Cleveland, everyone has begun weighing in on how the Cavaliers will perform next season. What kind of impact will Kevin Love have? Will Kyrie Irving be able to adjust to playing with Love and James? Will LBJ do his famous chalk throw in his first home game back? These are the questions that are cycling through every rabid NBA fan’s head. Every decision King James makes opens another set of questions and debates.
To draw attention away from James’s future with the Cleveland Cavaliers, this list looks at ten facts that people may not know about LeBron. Hopefully, and at the very least, this list will humanize LBJ for people who are seeing him more like a grand chess piece than a sentient being. You may find yourself surprised by some of these facts about the world’s greatest basketball player.
10. Played High-School Football
When LeBron James was in high school, attending St. Vincent-St. Mary, he played wide receiver for the school’s football team. He was so good, in fact, that he was named first team All-State as a sophomore. In his junior season, he led the team to the state semifinals, but that was his final season on the gridiron. Choosing to focus on the basketball, he obviously made the right decision, but many have speculated that he could have gone pro in football, given his freakish athletic ability and size. Just imagine LBJ on a fly route or a fade to the corner of the end zone—damn!
9. He Is a Fan of the New York Yankees
Despite being passionate about his hometown of Akron, LeBron James is not a fan of the Cleveland Indians. He cheers for the guys in pinstripes instead. Indeed, LeBron was criticized early in his career for showing up to Cleveland Indians games, wearing a New York Yankees hat. This writer thinks Cleveland-area fans will wilfully overlook this heresy now that he has benevolently returned to Ohio.
8. He Tried Going Pro after his Junior Season in High School
After his mammoth success in the early part of his high school career, LeBron James wanted to forego his senior year of high school and enter the NBA draft as a junior. This would have been an unprecedented move, but the NBA prohibited James from leaving high school early. Since then, the NBA has increased its minimum requirements for players entering the NBA Draft, so James’s attempt will probably remain the most ambitious attempt for early entry into the NBA for a long time. He probably could have made it work, too!
7. He Signed A $90-Million Deal with Nike Before Playing in the NBA
Before even playing a single game in the NBA, LeBron James was the object of a three-headed pursuit between Nike, Adidas, and Reebok, as the powerhouse companies all wanted him to endorse their respective brands. The NBA places a rather rigid and low ceiling on rookie contracts, especially compared to other American sporting leagues, so James’s first contract in the NBA was miniscule by comparison to the $90-million endorsement deal he signed with Nike. Having appeared on the cover of SLAM Magazine as a junior in high school, James capitalized on the attention paid to amateur athletes in America. Unlike Sebastien Telfair, James’s confrere on that classic SLAM cover, LBJ has delivered on all his promise as an amateur.
6. He Married High-School Sweetheart
On December 31, 2011, LeBron James proposed to Savannah Brinson, and they married on September 14, 2013 in San Diego, California. Before the marriage, the two had been dating since high school, so Savannah Brinson is James’s high-school sweetheart. Aww.
5. He Has Two Sons
With Savannah Brinson, LeBron James has two sons, LeBron Jr. and Bryce Maximus. James’s sons often come to see him play home games, and he frequently tells anecdotes about them during interviews. It is unclear whether or not scouts have begun looking at film from James’s sons’ little-league basketball games.
4. He Owns a Small Stake in Liverpool F.C.
With all the money he has made through player contracts and endorsements, LeBron James has become a dynamic businessman. He and his business partner and manager, Maverick Carter, dabble in various business ventures, and the two have acquired a small stake in the English Premier League’s Liverpool F.C., a major soccer team in the UK. Soccer franchises are huge in the UK, especially the big English ones like Liverpool. They are like the Yankees and the Red Sox of soccer, so it’s not insignificant to own a stake in an EPL franchise.
Given his recent trip to Brazil to watch the World Cup Finals, LeBron James is not a superficial soccer fan. And given his potential to do just about anything athletically oriented, he could probably have been a great soccer player.
3. He Owned a Small Stake in Beats Electronics
During its incipient stages, LeBron James acquired a small stake in Beats by Dre, Dr. Dre’s now-ubiquitous headphone company. Recently, the company was acquired by Apple, an acquisition that netted King James a reported $30 million. He probably blared “Still Dre” all the way to the bank, laughing.
2. He Endorsed Barack Obama’s Campaign for Presidency
LeBron James has not been uninvolved with issues outside the game of basketball. For instance, his and his teammates’ tribute to Trayvon Martin brought more awareness to the issue and its ramifications and implications.
When Barack Obama was campaigning for presidency before the 2008 election, LeBron donated $20,000 to the campaign. While not a large sum of money by celebrity standards, James’s endorsement undoubtedly helped Obama, especially since the youth vote, a demographic that is commonly swayed by celebrity endorsements, had become critical.
1. His Favourite Rapper Is Jay-Z
As mentioned above, LeBron James is a big fan of hip hop, and his minority ownership of Beats by Dre is not unconnected to his love of the eminent producer. Being an east-coast kid, LeBron has stated that his favourite rapper is Jay-Z, who has mentioned King James in songs like “Gotta Have It,” which is a track off his Watch the Throne album that he put out with Kanye West.