Look, I think it’s safe to say that everyone reading a Lakers blog at work the Monday morning after Halloween night probably enjoys watching LeBron James play basketball. So if James were to actually discover time travel several years in the future, it would be hard for any of us to blame him for wanting to go back in time, grab some good seats, and watch himself suit up and play in Year 19.
Does that sound outlandish? Well, on Sunday night, as the Lakers beat the Rockets, the internet was pretty sure that’s exactly what happened, as Spectrum SportsNet’s cameras panned to LeBron, and the blurry and darkened silhouette of a man with the same body type, beard and addiction to keeping his head covered with a hat at all times appeared behind him, eating popcorn and watching the show.
Year 19 LeBron James & time traveler LeBron James in the same frame pic.twitter.com/wyvyRycOLa— Dr. Rajpal Brar, DPT (@3cbPerformance) November 1, 2021
Lakers Twitter had a field day with the screengrab during the breezy victory, and even James himself enjoyed LeDoppelganger’s cameo on the broadcast:
AYO!! True definition of 2 places at the same damn time!! . Somebody tell Pat C if he wants to be me for Halloween just ask me. LOL https://t.co/XcZ8jeIGYk— LeBron James (@KingJames) November 1, 2021
But who is “Pat C?” As noted by Dave McMenamin of ESPN, the James “clone” caught by the cameras is actually fashion designer Patrick Christopher, a former professional basketball player himself who is actually the older brother of Rockets guard Josh Christopher. And given the blur, dark backdrop of the Staples Center crowd and the exact right angles and obfuscation, it’s easy to see how the slight resemblance that broke the internet came to be.
Christopher’s Instagram comments on that post were almost instantly flooded with people having some fun with the resemblance:
But Christopher is more than just a LeBron lookalike. His story is an inspiring one of overcoming adversity, as was well-documented by David Aldridge of The Athletic last year.
Christopher bounced around professional basketball overseas before finally earning his chance as a starter for the Utah Jazz in 2015, a moment that lasted exactly five minutes and 27 seconds into his fourth game before he tore he tore his MCL and ruptured his patella. His NBA dream was over.
Christopher wasn’t going to let that stop him from making an impact on the NBA, however. His company, “Sloan and Bennett,” actually designed the shirt James wore to the NBA bubble to bring attention to the killing of George Floyd and raise awareness of police brutality.
LeBron James arrived to tonight’s game wearing a t-shirt with “Minneapolis” and a stopwatch that is stopped at 8 minutes and 46 seconds.— Tommy Beer (@TommyBeer) August 4, 2020
George Floyd was killed in Minneapolis after police officer Derek Chauvin kneeled on the back of Floyd's neck for 8 minutes and 46 seconds. https://t.co/VdpEBfzgiF pic.twitter.com/0sI9vnjqZe
And as reported by Aldridge, Christopher’s history with James goes back long before that moment:
“He knows his platform, he knows his voice. And he uses it,” Christopher said. “For him to do that, that’s dope.”
James had helped Christopher earlier this year, when he wore a Sloan and Bennett tribute hoodie to Kobe and Gianna Bryant during the All-Star team selection show with the Bucks’ Giannis Antetokounmpo, making the hoodie go viral in a matter of hours.
Patrick Christopher, now 32, has known James for more than a decade. He’d been a counselor at James’ camps starting in 2007, while he was playing at Cal, and has kept in touch over the years with all of the members of James’ inner circle – Randy Mims, Maverick Carter and Rich Paul, now James’ agent.
But time travel rumors put to rest, Christopher and James both apparently had some fun with the viral moment:
No word yet on if that Space Jam 3 casting call is coming just yet, but Christopher’s inspiring story and evolution may warrant a movie in and of itself. And hey... We know an acclaimed thespian that bears more than a passing resemblance to him. Maybe “The Patrick Christopher Story” is James’ chance to finally branch out, and play someone other than himself. Now that would be a pretty cool, full circle moment.