Last week Lebron sat down with ESPN’s Rachel Nichols for his first sit-down interview since taking his talent to LA. The video had one million views in the first 24 hours.
In case you’ve been living under a rock or you’re on a strict no-news diet, here’s a quick recap:
On July 1st Lebron James announced that he was joining the Los Angeles Lakers. Laker tickets skyrocketed within twenty minutes. FormSwift estimated that Lebron’s move to Los Angeles would bring 3,000 new jobs, have a five-year local economic impact of close to $400 million, and that the five-year state tax revenue would be about $30 million dollars.
This was all old news by the time Lebron sat down for this interview. So much ink has been spilled, hundreds of hours of sports radio spent yenta’ing about this move.
Everyone with a pen and a byline was chomping at the bit for an interview. Lebron wasn’t in a rush. He had a plan.
Quick detour for a personal sidebar.
In sports I like to route for the underdog. Being a Lebron fan was never in the cards for me. Where’s the thrill in routing for the best player in basketball? Except of course when he was playing the Warriors.
Now he’s come to our town. Still not a fan.
Star athletes get so much attention, adulation and respect for doing something that few people can do. I appreciate it and waste too much time watching it. But at the end of the day, the world is no better today because Lebron James is a superhuman physical specimen and is one of the best to ever play the game.
Back to the interview.
Within the first moments of the interview you realize that Lebron has chosen the location. He has something to promote. It’s not an ESPN studio. Not on the floor at Staples. He’s at a public school.
Lebron is wearing a tight grey suit, big plastic frames and his socks are fashionably on display. Aside from the fact that his 6’8 frame is stuffed into a chair meant for regular humans, he otherwise looks important.
In the first two minutes Rachel Nichols says “You’re a guy who has won three NBA titles, four MVPs, and yet you will tell anyone who listens that opening this school today is a greater moment than any of those — and I got tape of you in Game 7 in the NBA Finals. Do you mean it?”
Lebron says “I do.”
You heard that, right? After 16 years of a prolific NBA career, Lebron James said, and I’m paraphrasing here, “Basketball is a tool that allows me to be an ambassador of good.”
The details of this new $8 million public school, a collaboration between Lebron’s foundation and the Akron Public School District, are impressive.
Every one of the 240 students at this at-risk school will get free breakfast, lunch, snacks and drinks. There is a “support circle” for students after lunch and every student gets access to a fitness trainer. Parents will get GED courses and job placement and every kid gets a brand new bike. Finally, if you become a graduate of the school, Lebron will pay for your tuition at the University of Akron.
Like most people I’m a fan of a specific team. My home team. The team that you have a visceral relationship with from adolescence, a team that no matter how much they lose, you still feel something in your kishkes when you see the jersey.
I’m still with my team, but now I root for players and owners who use their Divine given platform to make a divine difference.
How can you not root for JJ Watt after he helped raise close to $40 million for the victims of Hurricane Harvey?
You don’t have to root for the Pat’s, but how can you not respect Robert Kraft for all of his philanthropic work and in particular for making an annual trip to Israel and bringing with him hall of famers like Jim Brown, Joe Montana, Roger Staubach, Eric Dickerson and Marshall Faulk?
I hope the NBA players who strive to emulate Lebron’s on the court success, will realize that this new public school is Lebron’s greatest achievement and the one that needs the most emulating.
Today the world is a better place because of Lebron James.
Bruchim habaim Lebron, welcome to LA.