SAN ANTONIO—LeBron James considers himself a new school sports star.
Unlike the NBA legends of the past—or, at least, the claims of those legends—James has embraced the role of mentor to the rising generation. James spoke to Bleacher Report about his receptive approach prior to this season:
It’s a new era, man. And there’s nothing wrong with that. It doesn’t take the competitive spirit out of (anything), man. And I think people need to realize that. You don’t have to hate somebody to compete against somebody. At the end of the day, it doesn’t matter if my mom is on the floor—I don’t want her to win, I don’t want her to score. When I step out on that floor, people know. People know that (when) I go out and I play, the minutes I’m out on the floor, if they’re not ready, I’m going to dominate them. And even if most of the time when they are ready, I’m still going to dominate them.
In light of that attitude, it wasn't a surprise to hear him respond as he did Thursday night, prior to a game against the Spurs.
James initially offered a joke.
"Like what, like Hannibal Lector pick it?" he said, laughing before continuing. "Absolutely. Absolutely. You guys should know me by now. I don't mind it at all, giving guys whatever. Whatever he wanted to ask, I'm OK with that. Guys know that I have an open door, phone, whatever, policy."
Whose brain did James pick as a young player?
"Nobody," he said.
That's not entirely true.
While many of the league's stars were cold to James, Zydrunas Ilgauskas took his young Cavaliers teammate under his wing. They remained close, and James has said that one of his major regrets was not winning a championship for the Lithuanian center when they were together with the Heat in 2010-11.
While Erik Spoelstra said James has the team's full support if he chooses to attend Ilgauskas' retirement ceremony in Cleveland on Saturday night—a Heat off night—James said he still wasn't sure if he will go. He is concerned, in part, about being a distraction, and taking the spotlight away from his friend.