King: LeBron plays for Cavs or Bulls
LeBron James will end up in Cleveland or Chicago, if Larry King's guess is correct.
The longtime TV host talked with ESPN 1000's "Afternoon Saloon" on Wednesday about his interview with James that will air Friday on CNN. The network has only released portions of the hour-long interview conducted at James' home in Akron, Ohio, but King discussed it in more detail with the Saloon's Carmen, Jurko & Harry.
King said his prediction of James' destination is not based on anything James told him.
"My own hunch is Chicago's in strong here," King said. "One, he's been a Bull fan all his life, and that has never been asked of him. He said no one ever asked him who he rooted for as a kid. He had Michael Jordan pictures on his wall, worshipped Michael Jordan. One of the thrills of his life was meeting him when he was in 10th grade."
The first part of the interview made public was James telling King that Cleveland has an advantage in signing him because he's played there for all seven of his NBA seasons and the Cavaliers are his hometown team.
King was asked if he thought James was being genuine.
"Oh yeah," he said. "He's at his home. It's the place he grew up. He's 10 minutes from the projects where he grew up. He's living in a beautiful home. He supports so many things in that area. He loves Akron. He likes Ohio. He's got a lot of ties.
"So when we got to that key question, 'If all things being equal, are you leaning toward them?' And he said, 'Yeah. All things being equal, I'm leaning toward them.' Of course, all things aren't equal."
James told King he wants to play for a team that is going to win within three years. The Bulls seem as qualified to meet that standard as any of the five other teams that have the salary cap space to offer James a maximum contract: the Miami Heat, LA Clippers, New York Knicks, New Jersey Nets and Washington Wizards.
King said he doesn't think James would have difficulty playing in the shadow of Michael Jordan.
"He doesn't put that kind of pressure on himself," said King, who added he's never a met a more mature 25-year-old. "He's well within himself. He's a really interesting subject."
"They're gonna get together," King said. "It's not called a summit, but he's the ringleader, he said, of getting them together. They're going to talk about what their plans are, where they're thinking about, what they think about the league. They're not going to get into, I think, individual discussions of who will play with who and who will go where, but I bet that comes up."
Other topics discussed during the interview are James' childhood and parents, his time with the Cavaliers and his NBA Finals prediction.
And, of course, where James will sign.
"We had an interesting talk about the Clippers," King said. "He likes the Clippers a lot. He thinks they have a tremendous potential. He said he's certainly impressed that the mayor of New York is interested in him. He likes the city of Miami. But again, we come back to this [Cleveland] is where he grew up."
"I give the Bulls a big shot," King said. "But the edge would be, certainly, the home base."