James describes Obama's election as 'uplifting,' 'unbelievable'
CLEVELAND -- His two young sons at his side and surrounded by family members overcome by emotion, LeBron James witnessed history on Tuesday night.
And when Barack Obama walked onto the stage in Chicago's Grant Park as the country's first African-American president, Cleveland's superstar tried to grasp the awe-inspiring moment.
"It was uplifting," he said Wednesday. "It was something that you can tell your kids, you really can become anything now. You don't have to become a basketball player. You can become President of the United States. It was definitely an unbelievable feeling. It was definitely one of those feelings that you say, 'Wow.'"
James, who campaigned for Obama, arrived for Cleveland's game against the Chicago Bulls wearing a T-shirt with the president-elect's likeness on the front.
In the weeks leading up to the election, James, who contributed $20,000 to a committee supporting Obama, took part in an early-voter registration rally and hosted a free concert at Quicken Loans Arena with rap star Jay-Z to support the Illinois senator, who happens to be quite a basketball player himself.
James stayed home to watch the election returns, and when Obama won over Republican nominee John McCain, the 23-year-old stepped back and watched family members in their 50s and 60s break down in tears.
"I asked them, how does it feel for them having gone through what they went through, going through slavery times and segregation times. A lot of people in my family said they would never see a day like this happen. But times have changed. I think it's unbelievable. It's a great day in history."
James recently met Obama when the two appeared on David Letterman's show.
"He's an unbelievable guy," James said. "He's very smart and just very cool and collected. It seems like he would never let any situation get to him. I kind of like that in him."
James also like the fact that Obama got in a hoop game in the hours leading up to his election.
"They say that's a ritual for him, like me coming in early and getting a massage before the game," James said. "It got him prepared. The speech was, wow. If it takes basketball for him to say things like that, then let him do it."
James said he didn't cry during Obama's speech. He isn't sure what effect Obama's election will have on other black athletes or whether they will become more politically involved with an African-American in the White House.
He was asked if he had any future political ambitions. Former NBA All-Star Kevin Johnson won election as Sacramento's first black mayor on Tuesday.
"No, not right now," James said of a future in politics. "I might see myself up there in a navy suit, red tie, nice."
What about mayor of his hometown?
"Mayor of Akron?" he said. "I'm already mayor of Akron. I've been that for about 10 years now."
Copyright 2008 by The Associated Press