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LeBron James disputes idea that he chose Lakers for business reasons

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LeBron James says “hell no” he didn’t pick the Lakers in free agency solely for business reasons, telling The Hollywood Reporter that his projects have “been in the works.”

John Elliott - Front Row - September 2018 - New York Fashion Week: The Shows Photo by Theo Wargo/Getty Images for NYFW: The Shows

Since joining the Los Angeles Lakers in free agency, LeBron James has seen quite a few of his Hollywood projects get green-lit, from a TV show called “The Shop,” to a documentary titled “Shut Up and Dribble.” Most recently, James and his production company officially announced that he will star in a follow up to the movie “Space Jam.”

All of those projects dropping in such quick succession after his decision to sign with the Lakers have only served as more fuel for jokes and theories that James only chose to come to Los Angeles for business reasons, but he told Marisa Guthrie of The Hollywood Reporter that such ideas couldn’t be further from the truth.

He’s still all in on his on-court pursuits (via THR):

Rising media mogul he may be, but James is clear that his focus is basketball. In fact, one thing that irks him and Carter is the assumption that he chose the Lakers because his business is based in Los Angeles. “It’s like, ‘Oh, LeBron signed with the Lakers, boom, all this stuff starts happening,’” says James. “Hell no, this stuff has been in the works.”

James is almost assuredly telling the truth, too. Hollywood projects like this don’t just come together in a month, and James’ empire has had its tentacles in entertainment for quite some time, from his movie appearances in “Train Wreck” and more recently “Smallfoot,” to the TV shows and documentaries produced by his company, “Spring Hill Entertainment.”

That doesn’t mean James’ entertainment interests weren’t a factor in his joining the Lakers — even he doesn’t seem to be disputing that. What he is pushing back on is that his interest in Hollywood is his sole reason for joining the Lakers, which almost assuredly isn’t accurate.

James has been working on movies and TV projects for some time now, and someone with his connections could’ve done that either directly or through representatives from anywhere in the world. That doesn’t mean that the chance to hobnob with the celebrities and Hollywood movers and shakers who regularly sit courtside at Lakers games and live in the city James now makes his home in wasn’t an attraction, it was just likely only a factor, and not the entire driving force behind his decision-making process.

There was also that his son, a promising basketball player in his own right, will join a longtime local power in a city James and his family have been making their offseason home for years.

And finally — and this has been overlooked too often — joining the Lakers isn’t some preemptive admission of defeat from James! Are the Lakers guaranteed to win a title during his tenure? No, but they’re in no worse a spot than James’ Cleveland Cavaliers were, and with a promising and rapidly developing young core, plus max cap space in 2019 with the city of Los Angeles and James’ presence as a selling point, the Lakers are in a better position moving forward than the Cavaliers were.

Almost no one decides to move to a new job for just one reason. It’s usually a confluence of factors, and it’s not insulting James or the Lakers to imply that his Hollywood interests probably played at least a small role in his decision.

However, it is probably wrong — and arguably intellectually dishonest — to seriously imply that James’ entertainment investments are the only reason he chose to join the Lakers. That seems to be what he’s pushing back against, and if actually paying attention and evaluating things honestly, it’s not hard to see why.

You can follow Harrison on Twitter at @hmfaigen.