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Interview with LeBron James

Aired July 10, 2010 - 21:00   ET


LARRY KING, HOST: Tonight, King James -- LeBron James exclusive. The NBA superstar like you have never seen before. On the father he's never met.


LEBRON JAMES, PROFESSIONAL BASKETBALL PLAYER, CLEVELAND CAVALIERS: I had some friends and I was like oh, you got a mom and you got a dad?

I didn't know that -- I didn't know was the rules.


KING: The lure of money and fame.


JAMES: Temptation is around everybody.


KING: And the answer to the question everybody is asking, including me -- who is he going to play for next?

Lebron James exclusive is right now.


UNIDENTIFIED MALE: LeBron James with no regard for human life.




UNIDENTIFIED MALE: Has given the Cavaliers the biggest lead tonight.


KING: What an honor to have during our 25th anniversary week, the pleasure of being at the home of LeBron James in suburban Akron, Ohio, a place near where he grew up, at this palatial estate.

An honor to have you with us. Thank you for doing this.

JAMES: Oh, thanks. Thanks for having me, Larry

KING: What was it like to grow up near here in much lesser circumstances than here...

JAMES: Oh...

KING: -- then have this?

JAMES: Oh. Well, first of all, this is humbling because I know where I come from. And I grew up as a kid, I mean, 10 minutes away from where I am -- where I am living today. So it was a struggle. But at the end of the day, it made me become who I am today.

KING: Did you ever dream, as a kid there, that someday...

JAMES: Oh, absolutely. Every day. As a kid, we would drive up and down 77 North -- that's our highway. And there would be office buildings on the side of the highway. And I'd be like, that's what my house is going to look like when I get older. You know, I'm going to start making my house look like that. So sometimes when I look at my house now and it's kind of bigger than some of those -- some of those office buildings.

KING: So even though all of that ability, do you -- do you pinch yourself?

JAMES: I stay humble, absolutely. I mean, this is an opportunity that I don't think I could have dreamed of. But everything I've gotten over these past two years I've embraced.

KING: When did you know you had talent, particular talent?

JAMES: When did I know I had talent?

I think it started probably when I was -- when I first started playing sports, organized sports. I played football for a team called the East Dragons on the east side of town. And we had -- we only had six regular season games. And -- and six games I played tail back and I had 18 touchdowns in six games. That's when I knew I had some -- some athletic ability.

KING: How about the first time on a basketball court?

JAMES: The first time on a basketball court was later on that year. Football season is always before basketball. So I played in -- my first recreation league, I played for the Summit Lake Hornets, where I grew up playing basketball in the 8-10 league. I was nine years old and -- and we won the championship. You know, and I was -- I was one of the best players on the team back then. So that was pretty fun. I was able to win a championship of football and basketball in the same year.

KING: So your high hopes were warranted?

JAMES: Well, yes.

KING: But you had a -- a tough childhood. Your mother's only 16 when you're born. You move a lot -- 12 times between the ages of five and eight.

What are your memories of those days?

JAMES: My memories of those days was, you know, every day that you woke up, you knew it was kind of going to be a struggle. And, you know, for me, already being part of a single parent household and knowing that it was just me and my mom, you would wake up times and, you know, hope that the next day you'd be able to be alongside your mother, because she was out, you know, trying to make sure that I was taken care of. And, you know, but all I cared about is her being home.

KING: Did other people help raise you?

JAMES: Absolutely. I think throughout the years I've had coaches, I've had family members. My mom's two brothers -- she had a younger brother and an older brother that was around, too, that helped raise me. And a lot of -- you know, a lot of my, you know, grade school coaches and my high school coaches helped.

KING: In the book -- in your book you said, you were up half the night scared and lonely and worried.

Scared about what?

JAMES: Oh, when you -- I grew up -- I grew up on the north side of Akron in Elizabeth Projects. So those scared and lonely nights is -- that's every night. You hear a lot of police sirens. You hear a lot of gunfire -- things that you don't want your kids to hear, you know, growing up. And, you know, when you're there and you know your mother's not home, you never know if those police sirens are for her or if those gunshots was intended towards her. So, you know, those are the nights -- you know, almost every night -- that you was, you know, staying up hearing those sounds and hoping and wishing that it wasn't your peer on the other end.

KING: You didn't know your dad?


KING: Never met him?

JAMES: Never met him.

KING: Ever wonder about him?

JAMES: No, I don't think so. I don't. I think -- you know, for me, it didn't -- to a certain age, it really didn't kick in, you know, me not having a father, because I always seen my mom. So I was like, you know, I thought this is how it was, you know, until I had some friends and I was like, oh, you got a mom and you got a dad?

I didn't know that was -- I didn't know that was the rules.

KING: Did you ask your mom about your dad?

JAMES: No, never. Because, you know, for me, she was doing everything that I could ever dream of. You know, it was times where, you know, Christmas would come around and my birthday would come around and I would think, you know, oh, where's -- I'm going to have one or two presents or I may not get anything because I understand the struggle. And it would be -- it would be a floor full of stuff. You know, it would be bags full of stuff on my birthday. And Christmas is December 25th and my birthday was December 30th. So I had gifts on both days. So there was no reason for me to even ask mom where's, you know, my father or where's my dad, because she was doing it all.

KING: Did you also realize how young she was?

JAMES: I didn't. I had no idea. Now that I look on it -- when I look back and say, wow, my mom had me at 16, I don't know how she did it. I mean, as a kid, you don't know. I don't -- you know, I know that's my mom. And she may be 25, she may be 30, I don't know. But, you know, now that I look back on it, I have no idea how she did it.

KING: Do you have a lot of compassion for her?

JAMES: Absolutely. Absolutely. All -- a lot of my drive and what I do is because of her.

KING: How did you stay away from gangs -- projects. You think projects, I know projects from New York, you think gangs and drugs.

JAMES: Right. I didn't stay away from it.

KING: You didn't?

JAMES: Because I lived in it. And when I say I didn't stay away from it, I didn't mean I was associated with gangs or I was associated with drugs. But when you live in the projects and you live in those circumstances, there's nothing that you -- you can't get away from it.

But sports carried me away from being in a gang or being associated with drugs. Sports was my way out.


UNIDENTIFIED MALE: And back your (INAUDIBLE) there goes LeBron. Wow!


KING: Did you see a lot of prejudice?

JAMES: Growing up?

No, not really, because I was -- I mean, growing up, you was around African-Americans every day. And there was no prejudice. We all...

KING: What about white Americans?

JAMES: I didn't -- I wasn't around white Americans until the ninth grade when I went to high school. So, you know, there was no prejudice growing up.

KING: How about then?

JAMES: I don't think so. I mean, when I went to St. Vincent- St. Mary, which is a Catholic school (INAUDIBLE)...

KING: A famous Catholic school?

JAMES: Yes, yes, predominately white. I didn't see any prejudice at all. I think they accepted us for -- for us being students, for being students and athletes and, you know, I didn't see any at all.

KING: Now, also, you once said, "I never thought basketball was going to be my future. I just wanted to play because it gets you girls."



KING: Was that not true?

JAMES: That was true.


KING: You did all right in the female department.

JAMES: Growing up, I did all right.

KING: When do you know, I want to -- I want to play basketball for a living?

JAMES: When did I know?

I think I started to get a love for the game in -- I think around the middle school days. You know, we were going to a AAU tournaments, me and my best friends and, you know, my high school coach eventually. But he was our AAU coach, Coach Dru Joyce.

We'd go on AAU tournaments and they was fun. The competitive nature of the game, winning and losing and dominating one team and things like that is something that -- that just kind of gravitated towards me.

KING: We'll be right back on this historic week with this historic guy in this historic place.

LeBron James on LARRY KING LIVE. Don't go away.



I knew at that time he was the best high school player in the country. You know, he's the best player in the world. I think that that's something he's still working at. And I -- I know that he's working toward. And he has done a great job of exceeding all those expectations. He's only got one hurdle left.



JAMES: So we ain't going to do too much on this court because it's a little wet and I don't want you to sprain your ankle or nothing like that (INAUDIBLE).

KING: That's all I need, to get injured.

JAMES: Yes. I don't want to mess up your NBA career. So we're going to just play a little -- you know, just shoot a little bit.

KING: Oh, don't show the ones I miss.

JAMES: Easy money. Easy.

KING: All right. I made my one shot.

JAMES: We made our one shot. All right, thanks. Appreciate it.


JAMES: Thank you so much.

KING: We're at this beautiful house in suburban Akron.

What city are we in, actually?

JAMES: Bath. Bath Township.

KING: Bath Township.

JAMES: Yes. It sounds a little bit more elegant.


KING: A little impressive.

How big a house?

JAMES: How big a house?

Oh, it's pretty big. I'm not sure. I mean I just built it and built it and built it.

KING: You've made it when you don't know how big your house is.

JAMES: Exactly.

KING: Did you go to basketball games as a kid?

Did you go see the Cavaliers play?

JAMES: No, I didn't. It wasn't affordable to go to a Cavs game. But you could -- you know, if you could catch a few on the TV, you would be lucky.

KING: Were you a Cavs fan?

JAMES: Growing up?

No I wasn't. I was a -- I was a Chicago Bulls/Michael Jordan fan growing up.

KING: Ah-ha.


KING: So the president's suggestion might carry weight, right?


JAMES: It may. It may carry weight.

KING: So why the Bulls and not your own team?

JAMES: Oh, I was just, wow! I mean, Michael Jordan was just my inspiration. I mean, the things that he was able to do out on the basketball court, I loved. You know, the way -- everybody wanted to fly like Jordan and, you know, pull up and hit a game winner at the sound of the horn like Michael. You wanted to do commercials. You wanted to have his shoes. You know, everything that he did, I wanted to do.

KING: When did you first meet him?

JAMES: I met Michael Jordan, my first time, I was in the 10th grade. And I went to Chicago. And they play at a gym called Hoops. And that was the first time I met him. I was -- it was like he was walking on water when he came towards me.

KING: Did he know who you were?

JAMES: Yes, he did. He did. And that was -- that was more gratifying. And it was just very humbling that he knew who I was.

KING: He owns a team now.

JAMES: Right.

KING: Do you ever think about the possibility of playing for him?

JAMES: I've never thought about it. I think -- I do think it's great that he owns a team. You see a -- a former player in our league and -- and you see Mike and the things that he was able to do on the court, to see him still being successful off the court, I think, is awesome.

KING: What did coach Dru Joyce mean to you?

He was your high school coach.

JAMES: Coach Dru Joyce means a lot and not just because of what he helped me out with basketball, but he was like a -- he was like a father figure on me growing up and understanding that there's more than just the game of basketball. Even though you're playing the game of basketball and even though I'm coaching you in the game of basketball, we're going to use this game to create other things.

And he -- sometimes you didn't understand exactly what he was saying, you know when you 12 and 13 or 14. But now, at 25, I understand exactly what he was doing.

KING: Teaching you about life?

JAMES: Absolutely.

KING: Therefore, was he a key, significant figure?

JAMES: Oh, very key. Very key.

KING: Was he part of your decision not to go to college?

JAMES: Yes, absolutely. Absolutely. He was part of my decision; my mother, my four best friends. They were part of it. And they -- they felt like, you know, it was a decision that ultimately I would make, but they definitely helped me.

KING: These four best friends -- are they -- they like -- is this like your own board of...

JAMES: My board of trustees.

KING: You've got your own



KING: They're still with you?

JAMES: Absolutely. Absolutely.

KING: What do they do?

JAMES: Well Romeo Travis is playing professional basketball in Germany. Dru Joyce is playing professional basketball and he's in Poland. Willie McGee is a -- is a grad assistant at the University of Akron U. And Sian Cotton is also working towards his -- his school project and still trying to play professional football. So everyone is still on tap.

KING: And they all advise you and the like?

They're like your...

JAMES: Well, we kind of -- we kind of advise each other. We -- we know we can't spend as much time together as we did in high school because everyone has their family and, you know, their own goals. But we still connect on a lot of things.

KING: What about the kids?

You have two children.

JAMES: Right.

KING: Aged?

JAMES: Five and two.

KING: Boy and girl?

JAMES: Two boys.

KING: How do you like being a father?

JAMES: Oh, it's great. To have the opportunity to -- to see my kids grows and for me to be there on a day to day basis is awesome.

KING: Are you going to get married?

JAMES: It's possible. I'm not sure.

KING: What -- what holds you back?

What -- what do you think about?

JAMES: Well, first of all, I think, you know, I love my kids. And my girlfriend, she's great. But I think, you know, when you think of marriage, I think you understand you've got to -- you know, you've got to take your time. You can't pull the trigger. You've got to -- when it's right for you and you feel like it's the right situation, then you should be able to do it. But you don't want to rush into things.

KING: Does she press you?

JAMES: No. She don't pressure me.

KING: How do you deal with, frankly, LeBron -- I mean, let's be frank -- the temptations of life?

JAMES: By understanding that when I wake up everyday and I go out in public everyday that I'm not only -- I'm not just representing LeBron James, Sr. I understand that my last name is -- is a responsibility for my two boys; my family; my mother; rest in peace, my grandmother; and a lot of people. So that's what keeps me humble and that's what keeps me away from temptation, because I understand that it's not always -- it's not just about LeBron James.

KING: It's always around you, isn't it?

JAMES: Absolutely. Temptation is around everybody.

KING: You go to some city, pretty girls.

JAMES: Not -- it's not even always girls, though. It could be girls. It could be -- I mean, other situations. It could be money. You know, certain money is not always good money. It could be just, you know, being at the wrong place at the wrong time. So I mean, if you have -- if you have your priorities in check, then, for the most part, it's easy.

KING: Do you feel people are always after you for something.

Are you wary?

JAMES: Am I wary?

I think -- of course. There are always people always asking you for something. But I feel like I have a foundation. I have a supporting cast where it doesn't bother me too much. And now, in the position I am, I understand, I could see -- I could see people who's here from me and people who's here for, you know, the intangibles or -- or, you know, the things like this.

KING: So you know?

JAMES: Yes. I have a good -- I have a good feeling. I learned that from my mom. I'm a good judge of character.

KING: Oh, we have not forgotten.

There is, of course, the obvious, where is he going to go?

What -- how does he deal with something like that, this ripe, still young man?

What's next?

Don't go away.



UNIDENTIFIED MALE: A split screen posing with (INAUDIBLE). Oh! LeBron James with no regard for human life. LeBron James is taking over. He seems to be breaking inside. He is. (INAUDIBLE).


KING: Before we get to some future things, they played last night, so we don't know who won the first game.

But who do you like in this Lakers/Celtics series?

JAMES: I mean, me being an Eastern Conference guy, I like Boston. I mean, I played against those guys and I lost to them in the second round. And, you know, just the -- the caliber of players they've got, the winners that they've got, I think they have a great opportunity to win.

KING: Do you think they can win?

JAMES: I think they can.

KING: How did you lose to them?

JAMES: You know, I -- their team was just, I think, a little bit better than ours. And they took advantage of some of our weaknesses. You know -- you know, when you have Paul Pierson and Ray Allen and Kevin Garnett, you kind of forget about Rayjon Rondo. And -- and that's what exactly -- that's what exactly happened at times. You know, he kind of controls the whole ship that goes on in Boston. And they did a good job. I mean we're a really good team, but they were better than us in this series.

KING: Even though you had the better record all year?

JAMES: Even though we had the better record.

KING: Is that frustrating?

JAMES: Absolutely. It was definitely frustrating for me, knowing the competitor I am and knowing why I work out in the off season and know why I do the things that I do in the regular season, you never want your season to end in May.

KING: When you have, for you, what is a bad game -- and there was one game people thought that, you know, you were bad; for others would be good.

What does that do to you?

JAMES: It makes me more focused. It's just -- it continues to humble me, honestly. You know, when I have a bad game, it continues to humble me and know that, you know, you still have work to do and you still have a lot of people to impress.

You know, but at the same time, I know my game and I understand that me going out there and doing the things that I can do on the basketball court -- one game is not going to define who you are.

KING: Do you learn from losing?

JAMES: Absolutely. I think, more importantly, I learn from winning, because it's -- it's much easier to point out things when you lose. But I think the alternate competitors can point out a lot of things when you win.

KING: OK. You are at a -- you're at a point I don't think any basketball player in recent memory has ever been at. You're the -- arguably, the most famous player in the game -- you and Kobe. But you are a free agent. And that's exactly what it means. It didn't used to be that way in sports. Sports people were chattel. You were owned by your team for...

JAMES: Right.

KING: You're totally free. They can't make you an offer until July 1st.

JAMES: Right.

KING: But you can think about it now, because the money is going to be -- all things equal, it's going to be about the same.

JAMES: Right.

KING: So in your head, is there places you'd like to go?

I'm not going to ask you to commit.

JAMES: Right. I think...

KING: But if you want to commit, you could do that here.

JAMES: Well, I mean, for me, I think my ultimate -- my ultimate goal was to win a championship. And -- and I understand that me going down as one of the greats will not happen until I, you know, win a championship. So for me, the team that I decide to go to or, you know, or I'm staying in Cleveland, that ultimately has -- has the best chance for me to win a championship not one year, but multiple years and for me to continue to get better and help that team win, I think, ultimately, would be my decision. I'm going to do what's best for me and my family.

KING: So can we say it will not be a poor team -- a team of players who you do not calculate would be there to win championships, because you can't play forever?

JAMES: No, I cannot play forever. That is absolutely right. But the team that I go to or -- or, you know, whatever the case may be, will have an opportunity to win championships in multiple years and not just because of LeBron James.

KING: So it has to be a good team?

JAMES: Absolutely.

KING: All right.

Do you lean at all toward the place you know the best? I mean do they have an edge going in...

JAMES: Oh, absolutely.

KING: -- your home team?

JAMES: Absolutely. Because, you know, this city, these fans, I mean, has given me a lot in these seven years. And, you know, for me, it's comfortable. So I've got a lot of memories here. And -- and so it does have an edge.

But it's a -- it's a very -- it's going to be a very interesting summer and I'm looking forward to it.

KING: You can't wait to hear?

Do you wish it were July 1st?

JAMES: I wish it was July 1st.

KING: All right. Now, there's a story circulating today -- I don't know if it's true, so I wrote it down just to make sure.


KING: Now, you can tell me -- that you're going to get together, you, with Bosh and Wade and Stoudemire and Lee and Johnson and Allen and The Witsky (ph) and all of you sort of...


KING: This is funny?


JAMES: We going be like a little committee?

KING: Yes.

JAMES: A little free agent committee.

KING: (INAUDIBLE) to decide -- a free agent committee. No one can stop you. You're all free agents. The league can't tell you not to do this.

JAMES: Right.

KING: What if you go there and I go here and we go here?

Is that possible?

JAMES: I don't know to that extent, but it will be fun. It will be fun to get all the free agents together and, you know, figure out a way how we can make the league better.

KING: Why not --

JAMES: Figure out a way how we can make ourselves...

KING: Can you do that?

JAMES: No, if -- if we could, you know, we would -- you know, if it was like baseball, we would all go to the same team.

KING: That -- you can't do that?

JAMES: No, we can't do that...


JAMES: Unfortunately.

KING: -- cap?

JAMES: Exactly.

KING: But you can get together and discuss for the better of the league...

JAMES: No, we can...

KING: -- if I went here and you played there, right, you...

JAMES: Oh, I mean and in certain situations where you may be able to pair with a -- with a group, one or two guys and -- and better that franchise and guys better these franchises. But I think this is the most -- this is the most sought out summer in -- in basketball history, because of all the free agents.

KING: Are you the ringleader of the group?

JAMES: I am the ringleader.

KING: And we'll be back and I'll pick up on that.


KING: There's more to come.

Don't go away.


KING: Despite being in the middle of the NBA championship season, still the most talked about thing in sports today, is not who's going to be in the World Series, who will win the Stanley Cup, who is going to win the NBA championship, but where is this man and some of the other greats that are now free agents, where are they going to go?

Are you humbled by the fact that the mayor of New York City, Gotham, wants you to play there?

JAMES: Oh, absolutely.

KING: The mayor of New York.

JAMES: Absolutely. I mean and -- I mean the mayor of New York is -- he's great. I mean he's -- he's done some great things. But it is humbling, and not just from the mayor of New York, but, you know, you had a president saying --

KING: Go to Chicago.

JAMES: -- you know, go to Chicago and you have other cities and -- and other people wanting you to be a part of their city, wanting you to be part of their franchise. It's very humbling, because I work very hard at my craft and what I do. So it pays off.

KING: But you already said, it has to be a good team.

JAMES: Absolutely.

KING: OK. Now there's not a good team, though, where offers continue -- where the speculation is.

How about the Clippers, which would put you in the same city as Kobe, in the same arena as Kobe, with a team with some nice young players?

JAMES: With some really good players. And I think everyone in Clipperland is looking forward to Blade Griffin coming back --

KING: Right.

JAMES: -- and being healthy. I mean, Chris Kaman, they've got some really good players, Baron Davis. Some really nice, solid pieces that, you know, if they add a free agent here or a free agent there, it could be a really good team.

KING: And if one of these free agents was you and one was Bosh, would L.A. appeal to you?

JAMES: It's a great city. It's a great city. But at the same time, like I said, it's not always about the city. It's about winning. And I mean if you put me and Bosh on the same team, if you put me and Dwayne Wade on the same team or a lot of these -- me and Joe Johnson or -- or a lot of these guys, a lot of teams would be much better. You know, the Cavs would be much better. You know, all --

KING: -- your own team?

JAMES: Right. Absolutely. There are a lot of these teams that would be much better. So we'll see, you know, how it plays out.

KING: It's happened before.

Do you want a say in who the coach is? JAMES: That's not -- no, not really. You know, I think that a lot of great coaches. You know, a lot of great coaches have been part of this league for years. But I'm not one to go into the off year and say this is who I want my coach to be. Now, there are some coaches, that, you know, if I had an opportunity to play for, I would be delighted. But I'm not as far as -- as picking a coach.

KING: Were you sad that your coach here was fired?

JAMES: Oh, absolutely. I mean -- I mean he was a great coach, five -- five great years we had together and we turned a franchise that hadn't seen a lot of things in a lot of years. We won, you know, the Eastern Conference Championship. We won, you know, the regular season wins two years in a row. We did a -- I mean a lot of great things. But ultimately, we both, myself and Mike Brown, didn't accomplish what we wanted to, and that was the NBA championship. And I think we wanted it more than anybody else.

So it's unfortunate. I wish him the best and I think he's going to have a great coaching career in --

KING: Do you think Brown will wind up somewhere?

JAMES: I think he can. He's a really good coach. He prepares his team well. And if you just look at the team that we've had and you look at the -- the wins that we've had, he's proven himself.

KING: Have any of your -- Cavalier teammates asked you to stay?


JAMES: Of course.

KING: They have?

JAMES: Of course.

KING: How about this city?

You know the -- listen, listen, these are economic times and you are in the unique position of being very economically important to Cleveland. You sell tickets. You do more than that. You support people in this city. You're very generous in getting involved with kids.

Do you take that into consideration?

You've got a lot on your shoulders.

JAMES: Well, I think as far as saving the city economically, I can't get too involved in that. I can't let that be a decision of mine or what I do with my future.

But as far as what I do in the community, that has a lot to do with it, because what I do in the city of Akron and what I do in the city of Cleveland means a lot to myself. And, you know, if our -- if I don't do these things that I do on the community, locally, I will feel -- I will feel bad because I feel like, you know, any time when I was growing up, if I had ever got an opportunity to make it, I will always give back.

KING: OK. So I'm not going to put words in your mouth. All things being equal, is Cleveland sort of sentimentally the favorite?

JAMES: Oh, absolutely. And it's a -- it's a Cleveland-Akron team, because I grew up in Akron. I mean Akron is less than 30 miles south of Cleveland. So, absolutely. My whole family is here. You know, when I played high school basketball, where I grew up, in the projects, a lot of -- a lot of things mean home for me here. And -- and it's not just about the basketball court.

KING: How about Savannah and the kids?

What say do they have -- well, the kids don't have a say in that.

JAMES: Well, the kids got all the say. Let's --


JAMES: I mean, I think they -- they're going to support what decision I make. You know, of course, they have a say, but, you know, they feel like, to this point, I've been able to might -- make the right decision in my career and they're going to support whatever I do.

KING: Are you looking forward to making the decision?

You're -- is there going to be a relief when this --

JAMES: Well --

KING: -- kind of pressure -- and it is a pressure -- a happy pressure -- is over?

JAMES: Oh, absolutely, it's a happy pressure. To be -- to be in control, I think, you know --

KING: That's what you are.

JAMES: You know, absolutely. I mean we all, at some point, want to be in control of our --

KING: Destiny.

JAMES: -- our destiny. Exactly.

KING: More with LeBron James. We'll invest -- we'll instigate, also, what's it like to mature early?

What's it like to go from high school to the pros?

After this.


KING: We're back with LeBron James, the most talked about figure in sports in years in the United States.

You haven't made a decision yet, is that correct?

JAMES: Correct.

KING: OK. Would you say, all things being equal, you're close?

JAMES: I'm far from close.

KING: Far from close?

JAMES: Yes. I don't -- I don't -- honestly, I haven't -- because July is still a month away, less than a month away. So I haven't -- I haven't began to, you know -- I've thought about it, but I haven't began to strategize exactly.

KING: A couple of other things in that area.

Will talks with these other players be helpful?

JAMES: Absolutely, because you definitely want to be a part of a team that can give the best opportunity to win. But a team consists of individuals and, you know, there's a lot of individuals that can help myself win and I can -- and I can help a lot of these other guys win, too. So that has a lot to do with it.

KING: So that's an important sit-down?

JAMES: Oh, absolutely.

KING: Yes. That's -- that's going to be interesting. No cameras there, huh?

JAMES: No. No. We might invite you. We might.

KING: All right, I --


KING: If you let me come, I guarantee you anonymity. I will not say a thing.

JAMES: Oh, yes?

KING: Just observe. And when it's all over, I might come back and interview you all as a group.


KING: How you --

JAMES: You've got to get more chairs out here, too.

KING: Yes, how you went, where and why. We'll do -- because you're the leader.


KING: So we'll do it where you want to do it.

JAMES: Oh, yes. So we'll figure it out.


KING: It isn't the money, though, is it?

I mean the money is all -- it's got to be the same money --

JAMES: Well, the money is going to be there. The money is going to come. I mean it's not -- it's not -- it's not about the money. I mean I think right now, if I stopped playing the game of basketball, I'm set. My family is set --

KING: For life?

JAMES: For life. So it's not about the money. It's all about winning for me.

KING: What was it like -- by the way, is -- one other thing.

Is there any one person that could be someone you would go to to say listen, I'm down to this, what advice would you give me?

Is there a person in your setting --

JAMES: Myself, I think.

KING: You're going to be --

JAMES: Ultimately, that one person is me. You know, if I -- you know, even with the discussion with the rest of the free agents, with my friends, those free agents, with my supporting cast, ultimately, it's going to -- it's going to be me. I'm going to have to sit down and say where do you want to play?

How do you going to -- what's going to be your future?

KING: By the way, that free agent meeting will be historic in the history of sports. And I'm -- I'll attend. I'll -- I'll sit in the corner.

What was it like to go from high -- how do -- how do you explain your own maturity?

Where did this come from?

JAMES: Well, my own maturity came way before the high school to -- to the NBA move. It -- it started young, when you -- when you understand that you've got to become the man of the house very, very young -- at six and seven. You've got to start doing things that not six or seven year olds do, like 13 and 14 year old kids got to do, because you are the man of the house.

KING: So you -- you were a -- you're ahead of yourself all the time?

JAMES: A lot of people tell me that.

KING: So when you were 13, was it hard to deal with fellow 13- year-olds?

JAMES: No, it wasn't, because the group of guys that I hung around, we were all the same age, all of us. My four best friends, we were all the same age in the same grade and everything. So it wasn't hard.

But a lot of people would always tell us that, you know, we was -- you know, we was beyond our years and, you know, we was mature for our age.

KING: No -- there was no high school player to go into the pros as successful as quickly as you were. Kobe had some tough years, others.

How do you explain that?

How were you able to be so good so fast?

JAMES: Well, I think I had a great understanding for the game. And I understood how to play the game the right way. It wasn't always about just me as an individual. It was about the team aspect of the game. And I had a great respect, also, for the history of the game -- the guys who paved the way before me. I think that helped a lot. And ultimately, me having the right mind set, saying I know I'm the best high school player in the world, but once you get drafted, it's time to start back over.

And how do you make yourself be the best NBA player in the world and don't give yourself a time limit, but how do you -- how do you do that?

So I -- I just started over. I didn't go in with a cocky attitude, saying I'm the best prepped basketball players in the world so now I'm the best NBA player in the world.

No, I -- I never went in with that mind set.

KING: What about the crowds, dealing with huge arenas and all -- I mean you had a lot of attention in high school, but you were on the cover of "Sports Illustrated." But nothing like the pros.

JAMES: No, nothing. But it was a dream for me. I dreamed about those days a lot, you know, being in those arenas, 17,000 18,000 20,000; the cheers from the home court, the boos from the -- from the -- from the away court. Those were the opportunities and those were the -- the dreams that I had. And I was -- it was -- those were the reality.

KING: Do you ever feel sad you didn't go to college?

JAMES: No, I never feel sad. But I do wish I could have been part of March Madness. It's -- those are fun games and those are fun times to watch them. See, if I could have skipped the -- the whole season --

KING: But just played March Madness --

JAMES: And just played March Madness, I would have been all for it.

KING: What college would you have gone to?

JAMES: It was a -- it was a choice between Ohio State and North Carolina when I was coming out of high school.

KING: Close to -- it's two big times.

JAMES: Oh, yes. Big time schools.

KING: Ohio State, of course, the Midwest; and North Carolina, of course, with its history.

JAMES: Yes, absolutely.

KING: In what area of the game do you think you have to improve?

JAMES: What area of the game I think I have to improve?

I think, for me, going into a season, I always looked at what -- what are you going to bring to this year?

And I think right now, my biggest is, you know, shooting the ball, continue to -- to improve. And I've improved over the years, but I'm going to continue to improve just on touch and -- and in being more consistent on shooting the ball.

KING: Shoot like Kobe?

JAMES: Yes, he's really good. He's really good at shooting.

KING: Does he amaze you?

JAMES: Absolutely. You know, sometimes he doesn't even know, but I told him on an Olympic team that I -- in high school, when I was in high school and growing up, I had pictures of Kobe Bryant all on my walls, because he was like -- you know, Kobe Bryant went straight to the NBA, so he was my inspiration. I was like wow!

KING: But he wasn't as good that fast.

JAMES: Yes, but the fact that he could go straight to the NBA and -- and be in -- and be what -- with an NBA uniform, he was on my wall all -- all my wall had Michael Jordan, I had Kobe, I had Allen Iverson. But Kobe Bryant, I was like you know what, I was in high school, man, I look up to you. You know, I told him that on a -- on the Redeem team. He kind of looked at me like I don't know if he'd believe me, but it's true.

KING: When we come back, I'll ask about the Olympics.

Don't go away.



KING: And we have two short segments left, so I'm going to rush through some things.

What does Warren Buffett mean to you?

JAMES: Oh, everything.

KING: Why?

JAMES: Oh, he gives me a lot of advice.

KING: Free?

JAMES: Free advice. Absolutely. Free advice.

KING: Is he usually right?

JAMES: Oh, absolutely. And --

KING: So he'll tell you to invest in things?

JAMES: Well, he will give me -- he will give me a -- a lot of -- a lot of insight on -- on big ventures and things like that. And -- and tell me that, you know, some investments are better than others. And the ones -- the ones -- the best advice he gave me is that -- to kind of just truly follow your gut. You know, don't -- if you -- if this is a decision you're going to make, go with it and don't second- guess yourself.

KING: What about President Obama?

Do you like him?

JAMES: Absolutely.

KING: You supported him?

JAMES: Absolutely.

KING: Do you -- you've been -- have you talked to him since he's been in office?

JAMES: Once or twice. I have -- I had an opportunity to go and go by the White -- go by the White House. And he's a -- I think he's a great person. I mean he does a lot -- he's continuing -- he's continued to do a lot for this country and I think the first -- the first full term for him it's going to be rebuilding term. And I think, you know, and then he's going to be able to -- to in -- to put what he wants ultimately in the --

KING: How good a player is he?

JAMES: I haven't -- I haven't had an opportunity to play against him in basketball. But I'm looking forward to it. He told he'd do it on the basketball courts on campus, so I want to go by there and play.

KING: We'll be back with our remaining moments.

Don't go away.


KING: Just a couple more things to cover and it's been a delight talking with you.

JAMES: Right.

KING: What do you think of we -- she was with us last -- this -- earlier this week.

What do you think of Lady Gaga?

JAMES: Oh, she's an unbelievable performer, unbelievable talent. And she has a great -- she has a great following.

KING: Are you going to go see her when she --

JAMES: Absolutely. Absolutely.

KING: She's coming to Cleveland.

JAMES: I'll be there.

KING: You're doing a movie?


KING: What is it?

JAMES: I'm doing a movie called "Ballers."

KING: "Balls?"


JAMES: "Ballers." Like basketballers. But it's about -- it's a comedy with me having --


KING: Well, if it's good -- no, just -- there's nothing wrong with -- JAMES: You know, basketballs, I get it.

KING: Yes.

JAMES: But it's me having a -- a fantasy camp, you know, older guys, a 40-year-old guy, a 35-year-old guys who wish they could be LeBron James or Kobe Bryant, but they come to my camp and, you know, they have a lot of the same privileges as the NBA guys. So it's going to be fun.

KING: What are you going to do after basketball?

JAMES: Hopefully I could still be a part of basketball in some way.

KING: Own a team?

JAMES: It's possible. I mean I think that's great. You're still in basketball and you're also showing your business side. That would be awesome.

KING: Commissioner?

JAMES: Wow! Yes.

-- all the fines that I used to get.

KING: You'd like doing that, wouldn't you?


KING: Well, first, good luck with all these meetings with the agents.

JAMES: Thank you.

KING: Oh, would you do "Saturday Night Live" again?

JAMES: Absolutely. I'm looking for -- I'm waiting for the call. Loren Michaels has got to give me a call. He's got to give me a call. I'm ready.

KING: You're an every man.

JAMES: I'm ready.

KING: And good luck with the meeting. And let me know what happens. And if I can give you --

JAMES: Oh, absolutely. Absolutely.

KING: That's going to be historic.

JAMES: It will be.

KING: It's been my honor. JAMES: All right. Thanks, Larry.

KING: Thanks for joining us on this edition of LARRY KING LIVE.

"AC 360" is next.