LeBron James remembers the last time he was eagerly awaiting a scheduled NBA season, unsure how much longer a delay he’d have to wait.
James became so skeptical during the 2011 NBA lockout, he said Monday, that he began exploring another option.
He began training for football.
“The thoughts came into my mind,” James said on the Uninterrupted’s “After Party” show. “The thoughts came into my mind. … I had no idea how long the lockout was going to be.”
The NBA lockout began in July 2011 and wouldn’t be settled until December. Come October and November, James and trainer Mike Mancias began adjusting their workouts accordingly.
“We really started to actually train to be a football player,” James said. “We started to clock our times with the 40s. We started to add a little bit more with the bench press and things of that nature. We started to add a little more sled to our agenda with our workouts.”
Mancias began encouraging James: What if you go down to Dallas and suit up for the Cowboys? James, and Texas native Mancias, were both Cowboys fans. They allowed their minds to wander. James was amused by the irony that he’d pursue pro football after he never finished his high school football career.
In fact, James said he still dreams all the time about playing football. But like his missed senior season, the football dreams don’t give him proper closure.
“It’s crazy because I actually never run on the field in my dreams,” James said. “It always gets to the point where I’m either in the locker room or getting dressed or talking about or seeing the fans and as soon as I’m about to run on the field, something else happens in my dream. It’s like something that it always happens like that.”
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LeBron James throws a football on the sidelines at AT&T Stadium before the game between the Dallas Cowboys and the New York Giants on Sept. 8, 2013. (Photo: Tim Heitman, USA TODAY Sports)
His 2011 flirtation with the NFL was similarly elusive. Sure, James’ next professional sports game was in Dallas, his Miami Heat opening their season against the defending champion Dallas Mavericks on Christmas Day. James would go on to be named the league’s MVP as he won his first NBA title that season.
An offer from Cowboys owner Jerry Jones apparently went unused, per James’ business partner and friend Maverick Carter.
“I know he got a contract from Jerry Jones,” Carter said on the show, “that he framed and put in his office.”
Follow USA TODAY Sports’ Jori Epstein on Twitter @JoriEpstein.
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