LeBron James Didn’t ‘Shut Up & Dribble’ To Become The First Active Player Billionaire

LOS ANGELES, CALIFORNIA - JUNE 01: LeBron James attends Netflix's "Hustle" World Premiere at Regency Village Theatre on June 01, 2022 in Los Angeles, California. (Photo by Jon Kopaloff/WireImage)

LeBron James proves the revolution will be televised as it was announced that he is the first-ever billionaire still playing in the NBA.

The kid from Akron that has palmed the world with his hands, dunking it emphatically, has done what no other NBA player has ever done, not even his original idol, Michael “Air” Jordan.

The most important part of James making it to this moment isn’t the financial read-out that solidified it for the kingmaker of the billionaire set, Forbes. It’s the fact that James did it his way, uninterrupted, pun intended, and unapologetically Black.

“The One”

James has been touted as “the one” ever since he took St. Vincent-St. Mary High School to three state titles before going straight to the NBA in the 2003 draft.

James has been an MVP in the boardroom with all the professional accolades as a full-time basketball player. The longtime face of the NBA, James, has hoisted his childhood friend Maverick Carter and became friends 20 years ago with Rich Paul.

Called a “posse” once by NBA coaching legend Phil Jackson, James continuously checks the slickness of the narrative of the industry’s most respected figures while building his empire.

Don’t Call Us A Posse. Call Us Future Billionaires.

“To use that label, and if you go and read the definition of what the word ‘posse’ is, it’s not what I’ve built over my career,” James said to Sporting News back in 2016.

“It’s not what I stand for. It’s not what my family stands for. And I believe the only reason he used that word is because it’s young African-Americans trying to make a difference.”

The Ohioans have constructed major entities in media and sports representation. James’ ability to make shrewd investments managed by Carter has driven his net worth and his ubiquity across pop culture.

Imperfect Perfection

Additionally, James is one of the most vocal athletes on social justice and a champion of liberating the authentic voice of athletes. This is his true legacy as the world has never associated the word billionaire with being Black or socially conscious.

James is not perfect. He does have business partners in his mega-successful SpringHill Entertainment that could be considered opposed to his socio-political stance, like Elisabeth Murdoch, the daughter of News Corp billionaire Rupert Murdoch. However, in James’ case, the audacity he has shown America on the biggest stage in sports will always carry him in the hearts of the underserved.

The Audacity Of Hoops

Ironically, when Fox News’ host Laura Ingraham told LeBron James to “shut up and dribble,” James was the first to respond in a tweet.

“If you still haven’t figured out why the protesting is going on. Why we’re acting as we are is because we are simply F-N tired of this treatment right here! Can we break it down for you any simpler than this right here? And to my people don’t worry I won’t stop until I see change.”

What billionaires can count that on their timeline of accomplishments en route to the top?

LeBron James is only a harbinger of what is to come, an uninterrupted, unapologetic billionaire athlete who will dunk on you and then read you with the same impact. Not many people have dared to represent the Black identity and expect to make it in life still.

But the kid from Akron did, and now there is a new billionaire template to follow.

Rhett Butler is a Boxing Writer Association of America Journalist, Play-By-Play Commentator, Combat Sports Insider, and Former Mixed Martial Arts and Boxing Promoter. The New York City native honed his skills at various news outlets including but not limited to: TIME Magazine, Money Magazine, CNN's Wolf Blitzer Reports, and more. RhettĀ hosts the PRITTY Left Hook podcast, a polarizing combat sports insider's take featuring the world's biggest names.