LeBron James has a love of cinema that has stretched throughout his career. It is a love that has shown itself in several ways, from his appearances in media to his work behind the scenes in Hollywood, to his reference points in postgame pressers. One movie in particular, however, has James’ heart more so than any of them, and it might not be the movie you expect.
What is LeBron James’ favorite movie?
If one were to guess what James’ favorite movie, they likely would say Space Jam. After all, he has referenced the movie on several occasions throughout his career and spoke of his love for it years before the sequel he is starring in and producing was announced. Space Jam is not his favorite movie, however. Another movie has been referenced by James more often, and it has nothing to do with basketball.
Perhaps Space Jam occupies a lot of James’s life because of his nostalgia, connection, and status as a father of young children, but The Godfather is what motivates him out on the basketball court. James doesn’t just watch the movie to be entertained, he does so to be enlightened and inspired. James once claimed to watch the film weekly. He’s even been seen with the book that inspired the movie entering arenas.
On one occasion in 2016, one reporter to ask him what his favorite scene was in 2016. “Each movie is nine hours long,” James said (per Cleveland 19 News). “What do you want me to do? I don’t know, I’ll let you pick one, it’s a great trilogy.”
This non-answer caused some to question whether James was a fan of the franchise or just an idle observer, but those who pay attention could see why James would be a big fan.
“Great men are not born great, they grow great.”
James has been candid about his growth as a person, a father, and as a basketball player. He rose from poverty to become one of the biggest names in the world. This harkens back to Vito Corleone, who lived in poverty only to become the most powerful man in the mafia.
Not to say that James is akin to a mafioso, but in a movie series supported by notions of the “Great American Dream,” aspects of such a rise could resonate with someone of James’ background.
James has embraced these humble roots throughout his career, but the connection doesn’t end there. The Godfather movies explore themes about loyalty and family, a concept that James has vocally spoken about many times. From his kinship with Dwyane Wade to his circle of high school friends who still help him to this day, the concept of loyalty and growth is vital to the LeBron James story.
“Revenge is a dish best served cold.”
Furthermore, The Godfather films speak about the concept of overcoming adversity. LeBron James isn’t dodging mafia hits and taking out his enemies with guns, but he is overcoming losses and taking out enemies on the basketball court. Like Michael Corleone protecting his family name throughout the series, sometimes James is the only thing keeping his basketball family from collapsing before his eyes.
From the naysayers to the early hype and fallout from “The Decision” to the comeback against the Golden State Warriors in 2016, James has had his back against the wall throughout his career and come out on top. More adversity will come and James will likely overcome that. This might best describe James’ love of the movie.
James sees The Godfather not as a story of criminals, but a story of those who started from the bottom and found their way to the top, warts and all. Whatever reason James has behind his love, it works for him. Perhaps, one day he will give the fans a deeper explanation for why he loves The Godfather. Until then, his game and actions will do most of the explaining.