LeBron James Will Not Give Pregame Speech for Ohio State's Clash with Wisconsin

Alex KayCorrespondent ISeptember 27, 2013

Bringing in athletes from the professional ranks to give motivational speeches is a growing trend in college football, so it's no surprise that Ohio State plans to implement that tactic this weekend. 


UPDATE: Sunday, Sept. 29, at 12:20 a.m. ET

From Lantern Sports:

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UPDATE: Saturday, Sept. 28, at 7:13 p.m. ET 

Cleveland.com supplied footage of LeBron's pregame speech at Ohio Stadium:

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UPDATE: Friday, Sept. 27, at 5:18 p.m. ET 

From SportsCenter:

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Original Text

According to Ben Axelrod of Scout.com, the NBA superstar, who enraged Ohio natives when he left the Cleveland Cavaliers in 2010, will try to fire up OSU's players prior to the team's upcoming matchup with No. 24 Wisconsin. He will also remain on the sidelines for the duration of the game, which takes place Saturday night at Ohio Stadium.

James never attended college himself, having jumped straight to the pros after an impressive high school career at St. Vincent-St. Mary. Nonetheless, the Akron, Ohio native has been a longtime fan of Buckeye athletics. 

LeBron James and teammate Dwyane Wade attend an OSU basketball game.
LeBron James and teammate Dwyane Wade attend an OSU basketball game.Joe Robbins/Getty Images

Axelrod noted that James has close ties to current Buckeyes head coach Urban Meyer, stemming to his days with Notre Dame. The then-wide receivers coach attempted to convince LBJ to put on the pads at South Bend, but was unsuccessful in his efforts.

James was also given a commemorative locker in the Ohio State men's basketball team's locker room earlier this year.

The four-time NBA MVP hasn't played in an official football game since his All-State high school career ended, but he does know a little something about winning, as his Miami Heat squad is coming off back-to-back NBA championships. 

Meyer spoke highly of James and sounded excited about his impending visit, telling Axelrod:

Give me all kinds of LeBrons. You just see the way he articulates, his look, the way he treats people, the focus. We use him in those leadership meetings we use, those videos, his face is plastered all over them. First of all, our guys all admire him. And the head coach really admires him.

Ohio State’s director of athletics, Gene Smith, addressed the possible awkwardness of fans booing James, as the superstar notoriously spurned the Cavaliers with "The Decision"—a nationally televised disaster in which the star defected to the Heat:

I feel sorry that our fans won’t rally around LeBron because of the way he did his things, because for us, he’s been unbelievable. When his apparel came out, we were the first school he contacted. He’s always kept us at the top of his thoughts when he’s doing things. That’s been really helpful.

There’s also good chance that James’ presence helps sway at least one of the possible 10 recruits that will be on the sidelines this Saturday. It’s a smart move that should help Meyer—currently undefeated as OSU’s head coach—amass elite recruiting classes in the future.