EL SEGUNDO, Calif. — DeMarcus Cousins may not end up playing a single game for the Los Angeles Lakers, but it’s clear that his being sidelined hasn’t stopped him and teammate LeBron James from developing a strong relationship.
James and Cousins can be frequently seen chatting during timeouts, conversations that have sometimes turned to Cousins getting on James to be better in a specific area, such as holding him accountable for how many turnovers he’s committed.
It turns out that’s not the only are where Cousins has pushed James, however. During his appearance on Stephen Jackson and former Laker Matt Barnes’ podcast, “All The Smoke,” Cousins says that his time with James has convinced him that it’s not just an NBA organization that his teammate is fit to lead:
“I grew up a fan of him in general, but to get to know him off the court, like, he’s a real dude. And coming in, I did not expect that. I’ve always seen the corporate LeBron… He’s a real dude… I told him the other day. I’m like… ‘Bro, you need to run for president.’”
In the past, James has been outspoken about his thoughts on the “bum” that is currently serving as president of the United States, leading to some back-and-forth between the two. But given that it’s probably too late for James to jump in the 2020 election cycle and that he only just became old enough to run for office anyway, Trump likely wouldn’t be his opponent in any theoretical run, as incredible of theater as those debates would be.
But would James ever actually attempt a run for office anyway? I asked him after practice on Thursday, and after laughing and confirming that Cousins has told him he should, James said he has no interest.
“No I’m not considering it, and he’s said it a few times as the season has went on so...” James said, trailing off and laughing again.
If James did run for office, we know at least one current Democrat who is a big fan of his: Current presidential candidate Bernie Sanders, who previously picked James over Michael Jordan in the greatest of all-time (GOAT) conversation because of how involved James has been politically and with putting his money into eduction.
“I respect that,” Sanders said as part of his larger comments on the subject.
Now, if James did ever change his mind and decide to run for office, he would probably have to answer for his much-criticized initial response and follow-up to Daryl Morey’s advocacy for the people of Hong Kong, but basically every presidential candidate ever has taken stances they’ve had to later justify, so James is no different in that respect than anyone else.
And regardless of if James ever runs or not, the fact that Cousins even suggested he should campaign for president — and that so many Lakers have raved about James’ leadership — is a testament to how much of a uniter he’s been for this team during a season in which they’ve faced plenty of adversity.
“LeBron is one of the best leaders I’ve ever been around. I don’t know what his knowledge is of politics, obviously, that would be the first thing that comes into question,” said Lakers Head Coach Frank Vogel. “I think he would obviously be great if that were to happen.”
“His strength and intelligence, his conviction,” Vogel continued of what makes James a great leader. “Just being in a room, he just carries a certain respect level.”
So whether James’ ultimate political ambitions lie in stepping into the arena himself, or in continuing to support causes he believes in from the sidelines, it’s clear that he’s made a leadership impact both on and off the floor over both his career as a whole and his time with the Lakers. It’s one of the many things that makes his personal journey so fascinating to watch, even if it doesn’t sound like it will actually end with him as president.
No matter how often one of his teammates pushes him to change his mind.
All quotes obtained firsthand unless otherwise noted. For more Lakers talk, subscribe to the Silver Screen and Roll podcast feed on iTunes, Spotify, Stitcher or Google Podcasts. You can follow Harrison on Twitter at @hmfaigen.