While still in high school, Sports Illustrated named him “The Chosen One”. Friends and fellow NBA ballers call him the King. In 2003, Nike signed him—before ever playing a single professional game—to a $95 million shoe contract. Shortly thereafter, he signed other endorsement contracts with Bubblicious, Sprite, Powerade and Upper Deck. In 2005, Nike embraced his stardom by releasing a series of self-entitled ads in which he plays not one, but four distinct personalities. His all-around skills have earned him comparisons to some of the game’s greatest players ever, namely Magic Johnson, Michael Jordan, Oscar Robinson and Jerry West. He’s saved Cleveland basketball when the CAVS signed him his rookie year, the same year the team improved by an unbelievable 18 wins. Last season, he took the CAVS to the playoffs, and this year he begins a three-year contract extension worth $60 million. Really, this 22-year-old’s resume is already a scroll by any measure, and there is no question he’s the most recognizable figure in the state of Ohio, maybe even the world.
Few people are visionaries, able to see their ideas in full color and as organic extensions of themselves; even fewer are able to nurture their visions, their dreams, until they become tangible realities that can be actualized and appreciated on a daily basis. Athletes may know this struggle best, as they must be willing and able, at all times, to redefine their stereotypes of sacrifice in order to keep the brilliant pictures in their minds from ever blurring or fading in color. For these pictures, as any visionary well knows, are snapshots of the future.
LeBron Raymond James has already changed the face of the NBA, not so much in his ability to dominate nearly every known player “above the rim,” but in the identity facelift he’s given the NBA since his arrival. Having grown up against all odds with a single teenage mother in a low-income area of Akron, Ohio, and to possess, as a teenager, a stunning sense of self-respect, dignity and class, LeBron now means so much to so many. The tides of his influence flow over the globe in waves of mesmerizing, energetic change.
Back in November, we at C were fortunate enough to have the opportunity to explore the man behind the hype, and are able to offer you a unique glimpse at Ohio’s biggest superstar.
Name the three hottest women in the world.
Savannah Brinson, Gloria James and Eva Mendes
Relate your life or lifestyle to a movie – what role would you play?
I would play Bruce Wayne in the daytime and in the nighttime I would protect my community.
Bruce Lee or Jet Li?
Do you cook?
Where did you last vacation, and how much did you drop?
My last vacation was the Bahamas, and I dropped a little more than I wanted to, but I had fun.
Everyone knows you’re a classy, well-dressed guy. What designer owns the most real estate in your closet?
Louis Vuitton and Gucci.
Do you dress yourself?
Yes, but, of course, I’ve got a stylist to help me, too, though.
What’s the most expensive thing you’ve ever purchased?
Most outrageous gift someone has ever given you?
Shit, I don’t know.
Favorite comfort food?
Fried chicken, macaroni and cheese and candied yams. Everything that I’m going to have on Thanksgiving.
If you could challenge anyone to a duel, who would it be and would it be with a pistol or a sword?
The Joker, and I would need both against him.
When did you first dunk, and how tall were you?
I was 14 and I was 6’1.
What age were your talents first recognized, and what age did you realize your athletic ability?
I’m not sure when it was first recognized. I think I was around eight or nine or ten years old when I was playing little league basketball.
Most powerful comic book character, and why?
Batman, because he’s Bruce Wayne of Wayne Enterprises, that’s why. Self-explanatory.
Whom do you expect to see in the playoffs this year, and who poses the biggest threat to the CAVS’ title?
We’re going to see a lot of teams in the playoffs this year. Eight teams from both conferences, so you’ll start to see some new teams. Maybe a few surprise teams who didn’t make it last year. There are a lot of threats against us, of course. You’ve got Detroit, New Jersey, Miami and Washington, of course. But we got to keep taking care of business.
Turkey or Roast Beef?
Asparagus or Brussel Sprouts?
What college would you have attended had you gone and what would your major have been?
Ohio State. Business Marketing.
You have to be ready to get everybody’s best effort now that you are a team to contend with.
Yes, it’s going to be very tough for us to get up with some of those games we know we should win. That’s going to have to be the next step for us. We know we can beat some of the better teams in the league, but it’s those games that we want to win that we know we have to grow.
Ever since last summer you’ve been doing a lot of preventative maintenance on your body. Is that something someone said you should do?
It’s nothing that anyone told me to do; it’s just common sense. You want to be proactive instead of reactive. You don’t want to wait until something happens and then you start to work on it. Flexibility is big in our sport. You go through grinds and you travel so much. I think flexibility is big, that’s why I stretch a lot. And icing and just trying to keep your body rejuvenated and up to par the next day is big. It’s just common sense with me as a basketball player.
How has your adjustment been to the new rotation with getting those breaks at the beginning of the 2nd and 4th?
Pretty good. If that’s what it’s going to be for the season, then I can easily adjust. When you get to a place at 4:30 in the morning, it’s going to be tough no matter how many minutes you play.
Have you given the rookies any advice about playing time?
Right now it’s difficult for those guys. I can’t really give them advice about playing if they are not playing. I will have to wing it once they start contributing on the court. But during practice, they are learning and we are trying to teach at the same time on the ins and outs of basketball in the NBA.
Have you adjusted to the feel of the new ball?
No. I don’t think I ever will. It’s just not a good basketball in my opinion. You’ve just been so used to playing with another ball for the last three years and it kind of feels like a basketball that you would buy for your kids for Christmas.
How much input did you have in the creation of the Nike commercials?
As much as I wanted to.
Does money equal power?
No, but it does help.
Define your style of play in three words.
Passionate, unselfish and trustworthy.
If you could make one wish, what in the world would you wish for?
Biggie or Tupac?
Should it be legal for P. Diddy to rap?
Yes (laughing), I guess, if he wants to.
What’s the difference between a superstar and a legend?
A superstar is someone who is making things happen in their respective sport now, and a legend is someone who has already been there and done that.
They debuted your shoes recently at Madison Square Garden. Do you like them?
Yes, they are very nice. They got the graffiti on them like the New York billboards all around the city. They were only sold in New York City, and there was a New York line that said you haven’t made it until you’ve made it in New York, which is true. New York is like the mecca of basketball.
Will every market have different graffiti on them?
Not too many markets will have the opportunity for those shoes.
How about Cleveland?
No. Not too much graffiti going on around here.