AKRON, Ohio — LeBron James said the National Basketball Players Association is “not in a good place right now” and that’s why he’s considering running for the union’s vacant presidency.
“I just think the union is going backwards, and it’s not in a good place right now,” James said Saturday in an interview with ESPN after an event for his foundation at which he gave away hundreds of bicycles and tablet computers to underprivileged children in his hometown.
JAMES I just think the union is going backwards, and it’s not in a good place right now. I think my voice could be huge in that situation.
” — LeBron James
“I think my voice could be huge in that situation.”
The players’ union has been under scrutiny from its members following a 2011 collective bargaining agreement that saw the players give back significant revenue to ownership followed by a scandal involving former executive director Billy Hunter’s use of union funds. Hunter was fired earlier this year, and president Derek Fisher’s term ended this summer.
If elected, James would be the most high-profile star to lead the union since Patrick Ewing held the role more than 15 years ago. But with so many demands on his time, James hasn’t decided whether he’ll officially run. The union’s summer meeting is later this month in Las Vegas.
“I’m not sure I have the time to do it, but it’s something I’m going to think about with my team and go from there,” James said. “But I think we all can agree there’s been a lot of transition in our union in the last couple of years. If it’s not me in that seat then I hope it’s someone who is comfortable with it and can do the job.”
James, speaking at length for the first time since the end of the Finals, said he was impressed by several of the moves made by rivals this summer as they chase his two-time defending champion Miami Heat. He was impressed with the moves the Brooklyn Nets made to bring in Kevin Garnett, Paul Pierce and Jason Terry and new coach Jason Kidd.
“They brought three champions to their team and they brought in a championship coach. They’re going to be good,” James said. “Chemistry is always the issue when you bring new guys to a new team but those guys have sacrificed before so I don’t think it’ll be a problem for them. I think it’s great for the league.”
James also said he felt like Dwight Howard made “a good move for him looking at the situation” in leaving the Los Angeles Lakers to sign with the Houston Rockets.
“Dwight’s going to be very comfortable, he’s going to be back to where he was in Orlando,” James said. “Houston is a team that could be really good. They have young talent with James Harden, Chandler Parsons and Jeremy Lin and adding Dwight, he’s one of the best big men in the league.”
The Heat also made some moves recently. They released Mike Miller, who has a close relationship with James, via the amnesty provision in a move that saved them $17 million in luxury tax.
“As a brother and a teammate of Mike Miller, we hated to see him go,” James said. “That’s when you hate the business of our sport. Our front office felt like it needed to be done.”
Last week, though, the Heat added center Greg Oden as he looks to make a comeback after not playing in three seasons because of chronic knee problems.
“Adding Greg is a huge piece for us but we’re not asking too much from him, we’re not going to put too much pressure on him,” James said. “He hasn’t played since 2009, so it’s been awhile. We just want him to work his way back into condition. Whatever he gives us is extra.”
In a teleconference on Saturday, Oden spoke about his decision to sign with the Heat for the first time.
“After three years of being out I’m just going to go out and do what I can,” Oden said. “My body is going to do what it can. If somehow it says no, then it says no. But for me I’m not even worried about that. I’m just going to go play and not even think about that.”