LeBron Invades New York
The “More Than A Game Tour” stops by the Big Apple.
by Adam Fleischer
Jay-Z once declared he was “Michael Jordan of recording,” and there’s no argument here. But a LeBron James comparison wouldn’t be too far off, either.
After all, the two have an often-referenced friendship, The King tends to throw up The Roc any chance he gets, and we all remember when Hov recorded a song on LeBron’s behalf. And now they’re each on promo tours the likes of which each of their careers have never before seen.
While Jay’s been giving interviews left and right in line with the recent release of The Blueprint 3, James has been making rounds of his own to promote both a new book, Shooting Stars, and movie, More Than A Game. This past Sunday, the ten-city “More Than A Game Tour” hit New York City to celebrate the man, the movie, and the game.
The hundreds of fans that came out to Pier 36 on NYC’s East River were provided with all sorts of Bron-related treats. After being given a crisp red tee upon entering, event goers could choose their path toward LeBron mania: There was a tattoo station where kids lined up to ink their arms, neck, and face with a Nike Swoosh, “LBJ23,” or “More Than A Game;” haircuts were being given for those willing to wait in the lines; multiple hoops lined the venue for young and old to test their games; giveaways of Nike drawstring bags, LBJ headbands, basketballs and more drew large crowds; and a retail station was set up for those who wanted a bit more than what was being handed out for free. Plus, there were less interactive but equally appealing stations. One tracked the development of LeBron’s shoes, displaying all seven of his signature kicks, including the Nike Air Max LeBron VII’s, while another exhibited work that local artists at each of the tour’s stops had done on the soon to be released sneaker.
Performances by the Jabbawockeez (unfortunately, I don’t think LeBron’s new seven-foot teammate took part this time) and Keri Hilson were sure to have excited some, but you can bet the majority of folks were in the house to be a Witness like the tee’s being sold claimed they were. So, when LeBron finally took to the stage predictably throwing up diamonds like he was bulimic, the packed house exploded. Joining him onstage were the movie’s director, Kristopher Bellman, his costars, coach Dru Joyce, Sian Cotton, and Willie McGee, and Kenny Smith to toss out some questions to the group.
After the crew discussed varied aspects of the film to the frenzied crowd, LeBron responded to one of Smith’s questions by conceding that the hardest part of being in the NBA for him was, well, actually…”There’s no hard part for me, man. I just go out and try to represent my fans,” he said, causing everyone to shout and the girl next to me to blow a kiss, which he politely thanked her for. “I don’t wanna let y’all down,” he continued.
Riding the energy that had just been infused into the crowd, Kenny Smith, a native of the city himself, then alluded to what was and has been on everyone’s mind for quite some time: “It seems like you like coming to New York,” he stated, matter of factly.
“I love playing in the Garden,” James responded, after recalling his most recent 50 point outburst at The World’s Most Famous Arena. “Everytime I play in the Garden, I love it. This is the Mecca of basketball, how could you not love playing here?”
Beginning to tease the crowd, he resumed. “I know you guys are looking forward to next summer when I become… uh, that one thing.” He paused. “What’s that thing called?”
“FREE AGENT!!” shouted the what seemed to be the entire building, in unison.
With a devilish grin from ear to ear, he somehow managed to remember. “Oh, yeah, a free agent.”
While his plans for next summer are still famously up in the air, one thing is clear: this dude is an icon. And if, for some reason, you hadn’t fully grasped LeBron’s following, popularity, and impact on the world of basketball and beyond, Sunday’s not so small gathering would have settled any uncertainties.