LeBron James thanked President Barack Obama for their help to solve the complex situation that players lived in the Orlando bubble a couple of months ago. It's fair to say that if it wasn't for Obama, LeBron would have not won his fourth NBA title, so he owes a lot to the president.
During the 2020 playoffs, we were very close to seeing the NBA being suspended once again after the Milwaukee Bucks and more players showed their concerns about continuing playing without stronger and louder actions by the league against racial injustice around the United States. The Bucks boycotted one game against the Orlando Magic and that put the rest of the playoffs in jeopardy.
Players reunited with the league's officials to discuss what was next for them and while some were ready to leave the bubble until somebody talked them out of stopping the postseason. That person happened to be 44th president of the United States Barack Obama, a well-known NBA fan that didn't want to see these guys quitting so easily. He held a phone call with LeBron James and others and convinced them to ask for more actions before making the decision of leaving.
During the latest edition of LeBron's talk-show 'The Shop,' James thanked the president for his help during that difficult moment.
“When Milwaukee did what they did, and rightfully so, we understood that there was no way none of us could go on the floor. We stand as a brotherhood, we are a brotherhood in our league, and we stood with the Milwaukee Bucks and what they wanted to do – but there was a time where we were ready to leave too. The Lakers, myself included, we were ready to leave. And we were trying to figure out, if we leave or if we stay, what is our plan? What is our call for action?
And I’m lucky enough to have a friend, you know, the 44th president, that allowed me and allowed [Chris Paul] and allowed us to get on the phone with him and get guidance.”
Obama was up midnight when he received a call from a series of players led by James and Chris Paul who needed his help to find the best solution to that situation.
"I think it was close to midnight when Chris, CP, calls with LeBron, Carmelo [Anthony], I think Russ Westbrook was on the phone, and the conversation we had was along the lines LeBron spoke about," Obama said of a call that sources said also included Miami Heat forward Andre Iguodala, via ESPN. "Protest is useful in terms of raising awareness, but given the power that the NBA players had, my suggestion was that we use that platform to see if you can start asking for some specifics. This isn't something that's just a one-off. That's sadly what we've seen, as it happens again and again.
"So, one of the suggestions I had for the players was: Is it possible for you guys to set up an office that allows you, on an ongoing basis, to take best practices that are going to start making incidents like [Blake] less likely?"
James said that he was happy to have made that decision and was grateful to find a voice of reasoning in Obama, who really helped them out when they most needed it and made a concrete plan to move forward.
“When there's things going on -- when it's chaos -- when people don't know which move to make or how to handle a situation, the best thing you can do is have someone that you can talk to and give you guidance and have that type of leadership. And I'm lucky enough to have a friend that gave us those words of leadership and those words of saying, 'OK, this can be a plan of action; this can be something you guys can ask for. And if we can get that, then we can continue to push the needle and you guys can also continue the season, as well.’”
A couple of months have happened since that moment and the King is at the top of the world after winning the NBA championship for the fourth time in his career after a season full of ups and downs. He has plenty of reasons to be grateful to Obama and he didn't miss the chance to express his gratitude.