At 6’9″ tall and a listed weight of 250 lbs., LeBron James‘ blend of impressive size and terrifying speed are only two of the attributes that have made him a top-tier generational talent on the hardwood and worthy of being hailed one of the best athletes to ever walk the planet. However, there may have been a time when “King James” thought of walking away from roundball and revisiting a former love: the pigskin.
In a recent article for The Athletic, James addresses the question of how much he genuinely considered leaving the NBA for the NFL during the 2011 lockout, and what would have been if he actually took up the Dallas Cowboys‘ or Seattle Seahawks‘ offers to compete for a role with them. “I would have made the team,” James boldly asserts. “I would have tried out, but I would have made the team.
James was twenty-six years old and had not yet begun his second year with the Miami Heat when the lockout happened. So he believes his youth and his work ethic would have guaranteed him a spot on somebody’s roster. “One thing about it, I don’t mind working for something, so if I would have had to try out for the Cowboys or the Seahawks, or if I’d have stayed home and went back home to Cleveland, I’d have tried [out], but I would have made the team. I just know what I’m capable of doing on the football field. Especially at that age.”
To be fair, James did play wide receiver when he was a student at St. Vincent-St. Mary High School. In his junior year, he was good enough to be ranked the top prospect in Ohio’s entire state, catching for 1200 yards and had 16 touchdowns. And were it not for a wrist injury, James may have indeed pressed on towards a life of the professional gridiron.
In an interview last year on the podcast The Uninterrupted, James spoke in-depth about this time in his career and the real possibility of making that transition: “I had no idea how long the lockout was going to be, and myself and my trainer started to actually train to be a football player when it came to October and November. We started to clock our times with the 40’s, we started to add a little more to our bench presses and things of that nature, and adding more sled to our agenda with our workouts… The thoughts came to my mind. Never having the ability to finish my high school career and my senior year — I have dreams all the time about playing football.”
Things got so dicey during the lockout, James even teased his fans on Twitter and toyed with the idea, mentioning that he had practiced with his old high school varsity team and that it”[f]elt great being back on the field. Should I?”
But as we now know, the lockout was eventually resolved, and James went on to win his first NBA title with the 2011-’12 Miami Heat.
So when fellow freak athlete and NFL quarterback Cam Newton asked in 2016, “Why can’t LeBron be the Cam Newton of power forwards?” James’ answer tells us he thinks he made the right call in the end.
“I’m LeBron of the NBA.”