LeBron James Reveals He Trained to Be a Football Player During 2011 NBA Lockout

Scott Polacek@@ScottPolacekFeatured ColumnistMay 18, 2020

NBA basketball player LeBron James tosses a ball around before an NFL football game between the Dallas Cowboys and the New York Giants, Sunday, Sept. 8, 2013, in Arlington, Texas. (AP Photo/Tony Gutierrez)
Tony Gutierrez/Associated Press

LeBron James the football player apparently was more than just an entertaining hypothetical for sports fans to debate during the NBA's lockout in 2011.

James appeared on UNINTERRUPTED with Paul Rivera and Maverick Carter on Monday and revealed he started to "train to be a football player" during the lockout (around the 16-minute mark).

"Myself and my trainer ... when it came to like October and November, we started to clock our times with the 40s. We started to add a little bit more in our bench presses and things of that nature."

He also said he has "dreams all the time about playing football" since he was unable to finish his high school football career during his senior year.

Carter even said, "I know [LeBron] got a contract from Jerry Jones that he framed and put in his office."

It isn't a stretch to suggest James could have been quite successful in the NFL. After all, he is 6'9" with enough speed and athleticism to blow by defenders in the open court—or field—and the physicality to battle for contested rebounds—or catches.

Branson Wright of the Plain Dealer noted in 2005 that James was a two-time All-Ohio wide receiver during his high school career at St. Vincent-St. Mary that didn't even include his senior season as he shifted his attention to what eventually became one of the best basketball careers in NBA history.

"He was very good, and he could've played Division I football, without any question," former Ohio State head coach Jim Tressel said, per Wright. "I remember that he ran a heck of a fade route, and with those hands and his size, he would've been a great receiver."

Mark Murphy was a defensive back for the Green Bay Packers and didn't hold back when assessing James' football abilities during an interview with Tim Graham of ESPN in 2009.

"I've been around a lot of great receivers," Murphy said. "I tell people that I rate my top receivers—coaching, playing or watching—as James Lofton, Jerry Rice, Steve Largent and LeBron James."

Rice is widely considered the GOAT of NFL wide receivers, so that is some praise.

Fortunately for those who enjoy watching James dominate on the basketball court, the 2011-12 NBA season eventually happened. LeBron helped lead the Miami Heat to the championship in that shortened campaign in what was the first of three Larry O'Brien Trophies he has won.


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