LeBron James has a platform to speak his mind as the best player in basketball at a momentous time in United States history, and he's more than willing to use it, whether that's to share his thoughts on Trayvon Martin, police-involved shootings, or in recent weeks by participating in campaign rallies for presidential candidate Hillary Clinton.
So, on Friday, one day after his Cavaliers visited the White House as NBA champions, and three days after the election, James sat down to meet the media at the Verizon Center at morning shootaround with quite a bit on his mind. James, like many Americans, has had a lot to think about over the last few days.
"It was difficult watching it. Me and my wife didn't go to bed until 4 o'clock in the morning. It was very difficult seeing what happened not only in our state but in our country," he said. "[But] it is what it is. That's in the past. We need to live in the present and make our future better."
James, though disappointed with the result, is ready to move forward and accept what the country decided. His candidate did not win and he disagrees with Donald Trump on a wide array of issues. But he does not plan on sulking and hopes others do not, either.
"He's our president. No matter if you agree with it or disagree with it, he’s the guy, and we all have to figure a way to make America as great as it can be. We all have to do our part," James said.
"Our nation has never been built on one guy, anyways. It’s been built on multiple guys, multiple people in power, multiple people having a dream and making it become a reality by giving back to the community, by giving back to the youth, doing so many great things. We always have a guy that has the most power, and that’s the President of the United States. But it’s never been built on one guy. We all have to figure out a way we can better our country. We all know, we all feel, that this is the best country in the world. We have to all do our part. It’s not about him. It’s not about him at all, especially not for me and what I do."
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LeBron remarked how it was important to the Cavaliers players and coaches to visit the White House while Barack Obama was still in office. They technically could have made the trip on Feb. 6, after Trump is inaugurated.
As for whether James would visit the White House in the next four years if the Cavaliers win another championship, he didn't commit either way. Some athletes, former NHL goalie Tim Thomas for example, have refused the offer out of protest.
"I don't know. That's something that we'll cross. We'll have to cross that road if we get to it. We'll see. I would hope to have to cross that road," James said.
Going while Obama in office is also personal for James, who considers the President a friend and a confidant in issues he cares deeply about. Developing that relationship has been one of the true thrills of LeBron's life.
"It is surreal. Never in a million years did I think I would be this close to the President of the United States. Number one, it's the biggest position of power in the world. We just have a real genuine relationship," James explained.
"We just have so many things in common that we can talk about. Not only sports, but community service and growing up in the inner city and figuring out ways that we can help the youth. My life has definitely been pretty awesome. I never take it for granted when I get the opportunity to be around the President and to be around the First Lady. We've become really good friends and that's something that's special to me and my family"
James says he plans to continue his friendship with Obama beyond January and hopes to continue working with him, particularly on social justice.
"That’s an ongoing conversation. That’s every day," James said. "We will [talk]. Yesterday obviously wasn't the time or the place for that. But we looked at each other and we know there is a lot to still be done."
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