LeBron James has had a busy offseason and the Summer of LeBron continued last night with the premiere of his talk show/barber shop mashup The Shop. LeBron and his cohort, including Maverick Carter, Draymond Green, Odell Beckham, Jr., and Candace Parker among others, covered a wide range of topics, one of which was "Can LeBron ever come out and say I'm the best basketball player on the planet?"
Maverick Carter teed it up and Draymond Green drove it to the green in one with an extremely colorful take on why Michael Jordan was considered the best and, for a while, why LeBron wasn't. Watch the whole thing because it is interesting, but the Cliff's Notes version is this Draymond quote: "Motherfuckers fucked with Mike because Mike was like 'I'm Mike, with my hoop earring, fuck all y'all, I'm here."
Odell Beckham and LeBron also had an interesting conversation about the double standard they face as African American athletes as well as the price of fame and how it can sometimes drag on you as a person when complete strangers demand total access to you while you are minding your business.
LeBron started talking about privacy intrusion and how even if he was doing the same thing with his family as Tom Brady or Aaron Rodgers would be doing with theirs, and told fans to get their camera phones out of his face, he would face backlash as a "dickhead" where as the response to the Brady intrusion would be a call to respect his privacy. This then led OBJ to talk about how he feels like the constant attention makes him feel like a zoo animal.
The easy (dumb) sports fan reaction is "Hurr, you make millions of dollars to play a game, suck it up." Which is obviously nonsense, because we are still dealing with people here, with feelings and anxieties, and times in their lives where they just don't want to be hassled by complete strangers. There are other times when they are more than happy to pose for pictures and shake hands and do all that fan-friendly stuff, but not everyone is always "on." Stars, they're just like us!
This is all legitimately fascinating stuff, the kinds of things you would never in a million years get out of a press scrum or even a lengthy profile. The players' guards are completely down (they are sipping on what I have to assume is some very nice vino) and they are in an environment where they feel safe to speak openly about their experiences. There's always the danger that you don't see the genuine article when people can control the way their message is delivered, but it did not seem like anyone was holding back here.