— NBA TV (@NBATV) June 4, 2016
Yesterday’s media session at the NBA Finals included a lot of questions about Muhammad Ali’s impact and how he impacted player’s lives. When LeBron took the podium, he answered with a touching, poignant tribute to the late Ali and credited the boxer’s work outisde the ring for breaking down barriers and making it possible for James to be able to have a worldwide influence.
“So many thoughts come to my mind when I think about the man who passed away yesterday. What he represented, as a kid, I gravitated towards him because he was a champion, but I only knew as a kid what he did inside the ring. As I got older and started to be more knowledgable about sport in general and about the guys who paved the way for guys like myself, I understood that he is the greatest of all time, and he was the greatest of all-time because of what he did outside of the ring. Obviously we knew how great of a boxer he was, but I think that was only 20% of what made him as great as he was.
“When an icon like Muhammad Ali passes away, it’s just very emotional. It’s also gratifying to know that a guy, one man, would sacrifice so much of his individual life knowing that it would better the next generation of men and women after him. Today I can sit and go to China and make trips to China and all over the world and people know my name and know my face — I give all credit to Muhammad Ali, because he was the first icon. He is the GOAT. He’s the greatest of all-time and it has zero to do with his accomplishments inside the ring.”