The NBA superstar has left the Cleveland Cavaliers to join the L.A. Lakers, signing a four-year, $154 million deal, his agency tweeted on Sunday. And though there had been rumblings that James was heading to L.A. after becoming a free agent, the news still made shock waves in the sports world.
But perhaps the move to the West Coast shouldn't be so surprising, given James' close relationships with the Hollywood world, even while maintaining his already legendary status on the court. Let's take a look at why L.A. is the ideal place for the basketball superstar.
1. He has no shortage of celebrity friends.
James' move to Los Angeles puts him in close proximity to all of his celebrity pals, including one of his closest friends, JAY-Z. The pair's friendship over the years has been particularly strong. Tellingly, Jay and Beyonce made a rare public appearance to support James at the 2012 Sports Illustrated Sportsman of the Year Award Presentation in New York City.
Of course, James has also been frequently namechecked in rap songs. In 2009, he starred in the music video for Drake's “Forever,” a collaboration with fellow A-list rappers Eminem, Lil Wayne and Kanye West.
2. He is very much interested in the business of Hollywood.
In 2008, James got his first taste of Hollywood when he executive produced a documentary about his high school basketball career -- More Than a Game -- and his interest has only grown from there. In 2009, he made his television debut playing himself on an episode of Entourage.
James continued the momentum by creating an animated YouTube series in 2011 called The LeBrons. But his biggest move came when he started his own production company -- SpringHill Entertainment -- and signed a deal with Warner Brothers. Notable projects include producing and starring in the sequel to Michael Jordan's 1996 classic Space Jam; NBC's hit game show, The Wall; and his animated movie, Smallfoot, which hits theaters in September.
"Connecting with my fans and telling meaningful stories have always been my passion," James said in a statement to The Hollywood Reporter about his production company in 2015. "In everything I've done, from Nike commercials to Uninterrupted and Survivor's Remorse, it's always about connecting with people of all ages and providing unique content they can all enjoy. And I've always loved movies, which makes Warner Bros. the ultimate partner to help us continue to push the envelope. I can't wait to see what we come up with."
"They were like, 'You're going to play yourself,'" he recalled of initially being offered the role. "I was like, 'OK, I can do that easily.' I can just show up, 'Hey, I'm LeBron. I can play basketball. I can shoot some jumpers. I can dunk.'"
Later, he was pleasantly surprised.
"It was like, 'No, you're actually going to be Bill's best friend in the movie, and you're going to be a love doctor,'" he shared. "I'm like, 'Oh, so that means I'm going to have lines? Like more than one per scene?'"
James' charming performance was a hit among critics and audiences, and his co-stars similarly praised him.
"It's really not fair," Hader said about James' comedic abilities during an appearance on Today promoting the movie. "Like, what I went to class for at Second City in Los Angeles -- to learn how to improvise -- LeBron just naturally knew how to do it."
"He was so good, and we were kind of all going, 'Whoa ... oh, we don't have to say anything to him.' He just knew what to do," Hader continued. "I remember at one point, Amy yelled out, 'LeBron, just say the lyrics to 'Gold Digger' by Kanye West. Just say the lyrics like a conversation.' And he went, 'Oh, OK.' And he just did it. No one could do that! I can't even say 'Happy Birthday' as a conversation."
Though when it comes to starring in the highly anticipated Space Jam sequel, we know one fellow basketball legend that's not a fan -- Charles Barkley. ET recently spoke with Barkley at the 2018 NBA Awards, when he gave his candid thoughts on the project.
“Space Jam 1 was a classic,” Barkley noted. “I don’t like when people try to imitate something that was already good.”
“Hey, I know LeBron -- if he really liked it, he would have been in the movie instead of executive producing,” Barkley added. “I'd executive produce number two, but I don’t want to be in it.”