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The King’s Course: LeBron James Tapped To Be Starter of the 24 Hours of Le Mans
The NBA’s living legend will lower the French flag to start the 100th anniversary race of the historic event.
The NBA Finals are in full swing, but noticeably absent is LeBron James, as his underdog Los Angeles Lakers made an improbable run to the Western Conference finals, only to crash out against the Denver Nuggets. Oh, what could’ve been. Alas, Jack Nicolson and the Purple and Gold faithful will have to hold out another year as the Chosen One’s quest to make history on the court this season has come to an abrupt halt.
Though he’s temporarily relegated to the basketball sidelines, King James is never far from the spotlight, and this weekend he'll be lending his star power to one of the most prestigious auto racing events of the year: the 24 Hours of Le Mans.
What is LeBron James doing for the 100th run of the 24 Hours of Le Mans?
According to a recent NASCAR announcement to help promote its Garage 56 program, James will take his talents to the northwest of France to ring in the milestone anniversary of the iconic 24 Hours of Le Mans as the event’s official starter. Typically an honor bestowed on prestigious figures, the four-time NBA champion, billionaire philanthropist and blockbuster film producer is in good company, joining celebrity-filled ranks that include actor Steve McQueen (1971), French president George Pompidou (1972), Oscar-winning actor-producer Brad Pitt (2016) and 22-time grand slam-winning tennis star Rafael Nadal (2018).
“I am thrilled to welcome LeBron James to the 24 Hours of Le Mans Centenary and thank him most sincerely for accepting our invitation,” Pierre Fillon, Automobile Club de l’Ouest president, said, according to NASCAR.com. “The 24 Hours of Le Mans is a world-renowned event that, in the past, has welcomed some great names from various fields. LeBron James is a true sporting legend whose list of achievements and records commands respect and admiration. We are looking forward to introducing him to the unique Le Mans atmosphere and the excitement generated by the Centenary of the world’s greatest endurance race.”
What has LeBron James said about his role at the 100th 24 Hours of Le Mans?
As someone who eats, sleeps and breathes sports, LeBron’s no stranger to broadening his horizons – and his financial portfolio – when he leans into other leagues. As an investor in the Fenway Sports Group, James has a stake in, among others, the Boston Red Sox in Major League Baseball and Liverpool FC in the Premier League. Game just recognizes game.
"There’s nothing like seeing and experiencing sports at their highest level. It’s an honor for me to be part of this historic moment in motorsports and help celebrate the Centenary of one of the biggest sporting events in the world. I look forward to kicking off this iconic race and watching its world-class drivers compete on Le Mans’ global stage,” he said in a statement.
While he’s certainly never dropped the French flag to start the iconic race, his affiliation with the event wouldn’t be the first time that James has been linked to the fast lane: part of his ownership stake in Fenway Sports Group includes shares in NASCAR Cup Series team Roush Fenway Keselowski Racing. His partnership even earned his philanthropy – the LeBron James Family Foundation – front and center placement on RFK Racing’s No. 17 Ford Mustang that’s piloted by Chris Buescher.