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LeBron James’s Life Is Constructed to Keep Him on the Court

Getty/Ringer illustration
Getty/Ringer illustration

Malcolm Gladwell called in to the latest Bill Simmons Podcast. He and Bill covered a host of topics, including the Warriors’ reinvention of the basketball wheel, the expanding pool of NBA stars, and Kevin Durant’s next destination. In the transcribed portion below, Bill tells Gladwell about LeBron James’s ridiculous training regimen. To listen to the whole episode and catch up with all Bill Simmons Podcast episodes, click here.

This transcript has been lightly condensed and edited.

Bill Simmons: I just, by chance, spent some time with Maverick Carter a couple weeks ago, who’s LeBron’s business partner, and we’ve had kind of a love-hate relationship. He feels that way. I’ve never really felt that way, but I think that he feels like we have a love-hate relationship because he always brings it up.

I asked him, “What’s the biggest misconception about LeBron? What’s the one thing people don’t realize about LeBron?” And he said, “People don’t realize how hard he works on his body.”

I’m like, “What do you mean?”

“LeBron spends like a million and a half dollars a year on his body.”

“What does that mean?”

And he’s like, “Well, he’s replicated the gym that whatever team — whether it was Miami or Cleveland — he’s replicated all the equipment they have in the team’s gym in his house. He has two trainers. Everywhere he goes, he has a trainer with him.” I’m paraphrasing what he told me, so I might not be getting all these facts right. He’s got chefs. He has all the science of how to sleep. All these different things. Masseuses. Everything he does in his life is constructed to have him play basketball and to stay on the court and to be as healthy as possible and to absorb punishment when he goes into the basket and he gets crushed by people.

Now think about what an advantage that is compared to what the guys had 40 years ago when Dave Cowens just puts on his Converses, does a couple stretches, ducks some secondhand cigarette smoke … and then he rides coach. LeBron has just created this whole life to survive an NBA season and a playoff series. I don’t think he’s missed a playoff game. He’s played 13 years. He never missed a playoff game. He’s played like almost 200 playoff games.

Malcolm Gladwell: It is kind of unbelievable.

B.S.: The résumé he’s putting together is unlike anything anyone’s ever done. It really is. It has no parallel. Even someone like Kobe missed games and got hurt and had bad seasons and missed the playoffs and had years where he didn’t even have to play a playoff game. LeBron’s been in, at least, the second, third rounds, for 12 straight years [Update: It’s 11 consecutive seasons]. He’s always had to play eight months.

M.G.: Do you think he will ever win another title [this time in] Cleveland?

B.S.: I think Kevin Love will be the fall guy this year.

M.G.: What about Love for Melo? What’s your take on that suggestion from The Ringer yesterday?

B.S.: I loved it. You know I love hypothetical fake trades. La La wears the pants in that family. She’s not living in Cleveland. That’s not happening. I don’t think Carmelo goes anywhere. I think they like being in New York. I think he wants to be on the Knicks. I think Love going to Boston is more realistic, or maybe [he goes to] somebody who has the type of assets. I think LeBron gives this one more year, and if it doesn’t work, I don’t know. Remember, he picked all the players. He’s the one who said $82 million for Tristan Thompson. They have the same agent. He was involved in that. They don’t sign Iman Shumpert for 40 million bucks if he doesn’t kind of nod his head. They’re not putting together that team without soliciting his input. It’s just not realistic. So, I don’t know. I would say he comes back for one more year. I think Love’s the fall guy … and I know nothing. I’m just talking out of my ass right now.