We all know him by “The King” of the court, but is LeBron James the ‘Greatest Living Athlete” today? Well, apparently GQ Magazine thinks this is so. Let’s think on this subject a little deeper because eyes are rolling and lips are smacking, yes you! We could name several of James’ accomplishments like winning three championship rings, a host of NBA MVP awards, and countless All-Star appearances. The Akron, Ohio native, LeBron James has mastered ‘Greatness’ in other ways off the court. His work in in business, scoring Nike’s first lifetime contract deal, movies, and most important of all, his stance on racial issues in America.
Days before The King gave the world the “U Bum” tweet, LeBron spoke to GQ for the Magazine’s ‘Special Anniversary’ November 2017 issue on Trump and how the President has shaped how we live today,
” I don’t know what it’s like to live in every state in this country, but I know freedom.” James continues, “I know the opportunity that our country has given people, and to see the guy in charge now not understanding that is baffling to not only myself but to my friends and to the people that’ve helped grow this country.
James was asked if his stance against Trump could be compared to Muhammed Ali’s stance against fighting in the Vietnam War, James says,
“I think only time will tell. I think Ali represented something bigger than Ali. He wanted to make a change for a future without him included. That’s what Ali brought to the table. But Muhammad Ali’s correlation to the war… I don’t think me and Donald Trump could ever get to that point.”
James never seems to shy away from the most sensitive questions. Especially in today’s society involving race and equality. As a man of color, James feels as it’s his responsibility and that he has a higher calling to be involved. “If it’s in you, and if it’s authentic, then do it. If it’s some fake shit, then the people, the kids, they’re going to notice it. They know.” Remember, during the playoff this past season, James’ home in California was vandalized with spray paint with the most racial gesture, James goes into details on how that effected him and his children. “It’s heavy when a situation occurs either with myself or with someone in a different city, i.e., Trayvon, Mike Brown. I have to go home and talk to my 13- and 10-year-old sons, even my 2-year-old daughter, about what it means to grow up being an African-American in America. Because no matter how great you become in life, no matter how wealthy you become, how people worship you, or what you do, if you are an African-American man or African-American woman, you will always be that.” He continues, “Do I use my energy toward that? Or do I now shed a light on how I can use this negative to turn into a positive, because so many people are looking for what I’m going to say. I had a conversation with my kids. I let them know this is what it is, this is how it’s going to be. When it’s time for y’all to fly, you’ll have to understand that. When y’all go out in public and y’all start driving or y’all start moving around, be respectful to cops, as much as you can. When you get pulled over, call your mom or dad, put it on speakerphone, and put your phone underneath the seat. But be respectful the whole time.”
Although, those that love him and support leaders as the very divisive President Trump, will tweet or post in James’ comments to “Stick to sports.” Not thinking of the players families, friends, and associates that are of color who may come to James for advice. Professional athletes as James are our voices at their ‘Greatest’ potential, so why not say it like you mean it? Although, James is not a world leader or able to make and change laws, what James is able to do get the conversation going. James is able to reach a group of society who isn’t interested in watching a BET or scrolling down “Black Twitter” to understand our point of view. That’s the voice we need to not only stand for equality but someone who can reach all walks of life to spark a conversation for change.
Does that make LeBron better than MJ? Not exactly, but James thinks has the answers to that. James says, “If I was the most consistent and was at the top of the food chain more than anybody in NBA history” that could put him in the position to be seen as the greatest.
Lastly, what else does James owe not just we the fans, but to his city of Cleveland? We all know how he left years ago winning not just one, but two, but not quit the three, or four as he mentioned in the famous big three clip from his days in Miami. But, what could he continue to prove or accomplish for the city of Cleveland and the entire state of Ohio now? After winning the Cavaliers their first NBA Championship and the city’s first championship in years, the thing James says he owes the city of Cleveland is nothing. James tells GQ, “When my mother told me I don’t owe her anything, from that point in time, I don’t owe anybody anything. But what I will give to the city of Cleveland is passion, commitment, and inspiration. As long as I put that jersey on, that’s what I represent.”
Whether you agree or maybe disagree with labeling James as the ‘Greatest Living Athlete,’ he stands up for his community, giving back as much as he can, sending kids to college, dominating the court going to seven straight NBA Finals, and killing the business off the court. We have to agree, James is not the average future Hall of Fame athlete who is only interested in lining his pockets but making sure to leave a legacy for his kids and his fans all around the world.
Photo cred: Pari Dukovic/GQ Magazine