Zion Williamson is the biggest name in college basketball and LeBron James is the biggest name in the NBA. When the two stars are associated in any way, news is sure to follow and that is what transpired on Saturday when James made a quick trip to Charlottesville, Virginia to see Williamson and his Duke teammates face off against the Virginia Cavaliers in an intriguing battle of a top-five teams.
There was an easy explanation for James and agent Rich Paul making the trip — the Lakers were in Philadelphia for a game the next night. But that didn’t stop the conspiracy theories from flying. Paul is a high-powered agent and his biggest client, James, being in the building as the hottest star at the college level took the floor sent many down the rabbit hole that the duo might be “recruiting” Williamson to Klutch Sports in some way.
James had a full recap of what makes Zion special, but he also took the time to address the idea that he was recruiting Zion by showing up in Virginia. James strongly pushed back on that notion this week in speaking to Dave McMenamin of ESPN.
“A recruiting trip? I didn’t talk to anybody,” James told ESPN.
“They’re only saying that because it’s Rich. When Shaq came to see me play in high school, when A.I. came to see me play in high school, they weren’t saying it was a recruiting trip then. But because it’s Rich Paul and LeBron, now it’s a recruitment trip.
It comes as no surprise that James would be bothered by the insinuation, particularly on behalf of his long-time friend in Paul. The specifics are important here in that the duo did not speak to Williamson while making the trip and, as James notes, it is perfectly reasonable that someone with his love of the game might want to see an incredibly interesting college game just a stone’s throw from where his professional team was enjoying a day off.