Brendan Haywood enjoyed a long and fruitful 15-year NBA career. Although he was never a top-tier center in the league, he was always a serviceable big man who gave his teams all he had.
As is the case with most 15-year NBA vets, Haywood has amassed a fair share of interesting anecdotes from his playing days. This week, he spoke with Bryan Kalbrosky of HoopsHype about one particularly interesting incident involving LeBron James.
“When I was in Dallas, LeBron was thinking about going to Miami,” he said.
“Before he went to the Heat, he was recruiting guys to come to Cleveland. I get a text from a number that I don’t know. It’s LeBron. He says: ‘What’s up, this is King James.’ It was a little weird he called himself King James but I kept going.
“He told me he was trying to get guys to come to the Cavs,” Haywood continued.
“He said he knew that they could not give me what I was going to get in the market. But he wanted to know if I would be willing to take a pay cut to be a part of something special. I wouldn’t have taken a pay cut to play with the ’92 [Chicago] Bulls.
“Buddy, you’re making $100 million off the court! This is my last hurrah! I hadn’t made enough money in my career to take a pay cut and chase a championship. I’d played so many playoff series against him that I saw him as another player. If you play in the league, you look at guys a little differently. He was younger than I was. I looked at him like he was anybody else.”
Interesting shirt choice by Katya Elise Henry. https://t.co/tPbxpgGkbI
— Game 7 (@game7__) December 14, 2020
While a partnership didn’t ultimately happen at that point, Haywood did later team team up with James in 2015. That group made it to the NBA Finals, but they lost to the Golden State Warriors in six games. Haywood saw no playoff minutes.
Despite being weirded out by that one particular text message, Haywood actually had nothing but positive things to say about James as a teammate.
“It was great playing with LeBron because he is one of the best teammates ever,” he said.
“He really wants to have everybody included. He wants to have guys on the same page. He wants to do things off the court to get guys engaged with each other, whether it’s taking guys out to the movies or having a room in the hotel where everybody could down and watch TV, eat, play video games.”
While it’s objectively hilarious that James refers to himself as “King” in his text messages, it’s also nice to hear that he is as good of a teammate as he appears to be on TV.