LeBron James says he is not thinking about his basketball legacy as he closes in on a fourth NBA Finals victory with the Los Angeles Lakers on Friday.
James is within touching distance of yet another championship as the Lakers head into game five in Orlando with a 3-1 lead in their best-of-seven series against the Miami Heat.
But while a fourth championship ring is certain to stir debate about James’s precise ranking in the pantheon of NBA greats, the 35-year-old superstar says he has given it little thought.
“I don’t really think about it too much,” James told reporters on Thursday. “The story will be told how it’s supposed to be told and be written how it’s supposed to be written. But I don’t live my life thinking about legacy.”
James said he was more preoccupied with his legacy as a role model and social justice campaigner.
“What I do off the floor is what means more to me than what I do on the floor,” said James, who this week received a time-honored accolade reserved for elite US athletes by appearing on the box of the Wheaties breakfast cereal.
Students from James’s ‘I Promise’ school, which he started in his hometown of Akron, Ohio, also appeared on the box.
“Seeing my kids on the back of a Wheaties box yesterday was one of the best moments of my life,” James said.
“Seeing my mom unveil the box back in my hometown of Akron, Ohio, yesterday was some of the best news, videos and pictures that I’ve ever seen, that I could ever get.
“The game of basketball will pass me by. There will be a new group of young kids and vets and rookies throughout the course of this game. So I can’t worry about that as far as on the floor.
“How I move, how I walk, what I preach, what I talk about, how I inspire the next generation is what matters to me the most. And if you appreciate my game, then cool. If you didn’t, then that’s cool, too.”
‘We don’t stop’
James, a long-time advocate for social justice, has been one of the most prominent voices among NBA players this year during the protests against police brutality and systemic racism that followed the death of George Floyd in Minneapolis in May.
The NBA has embraced the Black Lives Matter movement since restarting the coronavirus-interrupted NBA season in Orlando in July, encouraging players to showcase their activism throughout the final months of the season.
James, who is also one of the driving forces behind a group aimed at boosting voter turnout in the November 3 US presidential election, said he hoped the NBA player activism would continue after the finals have concluded.
“Where do we go from here? We don’t stop,” James said. “Obviously, when the season ends in less than a week, everyone disperses and goes back.
“But I hope people continue to use their platform. Use their individual social media platforms, if they’re doing it that way, or if you are an individual that goes into your community and does it that way.
“Being here and having the opportunity to talk about these issues and continuing to understand that this world is not just about basketball, even though we live in a small piece of the game of basketball.
“There are so many bigger things and so many greater things going on. If you can make an impact or you can make a change or you can have a vision, it just helps out so much not only in your community but all over the world.”