LeBron James Is Reading 'The Autobiography Of Malcolm X' For Inspiration During Playoffs

Melissa Rohlin

As LeBron James rode a stationary bike during a recent workout in the NBA bubble in Florida, he read a book. 

Amid a global pandemic, nationwide social unrest and being confined to a campus at Walt Disney World away from his family for six weeks, James has turned to the words of Malcom X for inspiration. 

"A very, very smart man," James said after the Lakers' 111-88 win over the Portland Trail Blazers in Game 2 of their first-round playoff series on Thursday. "And basically, his words in the 60s and what was going on is actually what’s going on today still."

James said that many of the things the civil rights activist discusses in "The Autobiography of Malcolm X" are especially poignant right now. 

And he's made a point of highlighting them during many of his media sessions since he arrived at the NBA bubble July 9.

James demanded the police officers who shot Breonna Taylor in Louisville in March get arrested. He wore a T-shirt in honor of George Floyd, who was murdered by a police officer in Minneapolis in May. He clapped back at President Donald Trump for criticizing NBA players kneeling as a form of peaceful protest during the national anthem. And after Thursday's game, he defended Goodyear after Trump called for his followers to boycott the company following a leaked photo that listed "MAGA Attire" as unacceptable. 

James said Malcolm X's words are deeply inspiring. 

"Him understanding how powerful the negro can be," James said. "He uses that word a lot. How powerful we are. But we have to unite, and we have to be together, and we have to stand strong because there’s always going to be obstacles. There’s always going to be things that’s going to be thrown at us where they try to weaken us. They try to make us feel like we’re not kings and queens. And it’s going to come from all different races and all different shapes and sizes and things of that nature."

James, a three-time NBA champion and four-time MVP, is currently trying to lead the Lakers to their first championship in 10 years. The 35-year-old is under a huge amount of pressure, with multiple pundits saying his legacy will be affected if he doesn't win a title alongside Anthony Davis. 

But James has found a way to quiet everything by focusing on something much greater than him. 

"Just a very powerful-minded gentleman and it’s unbelievable to kind of read something that’s coming directly from him," James said of Malcolm X.

After Thursday's blowout win, James wasn't celebrating the Lakers' statement against the dangerous eighth-seeded Trail Blazers. He wasn't focused on the fact that the Lakers had tied the series, 1-1. He wasn't reliving moments from the game in his head, as he often does. 

Instead he buried himself in his book as he waited for Davis to finish speaking to the media. A Los Angeles Times journalist captured the moment with a photo. 

James said he only wishes things could've played out differently. 

"I wish I had the opportunity to meet him," James said of Malcolm X, who was assassinated in 1965. "Obviously, we know the situation that happened with not only him, but Dr. Martin Luther King."

James said Malcom X and King, who was assassinated in 1968, forever changed the world. 

"Some of the greats that ever walked the face of this earth," he said. "Not only just here in America. But on the face of the earth."