As a teen, LeBron James could already picture a Nike building dedicated to his legacy.
During an episode of The Shop, the Lakers star stirred up a conversation about the LeBron James Innovation Center, while filming from it directly on the campus of Nike’s World Headquarters in Beaverton, OR.
The moment is surreal for James as he knows this is not just every athlete’s dream but that it was his too, beginning in his late teen years.
For James, the building was not a flashy indicator of success, but it was another opportunity to be a change-maker for generations to come.
He expounds on his purpose outside of basketball in the presence of three-time WNBA MVP Lisa Leslie, four-time NBA Champion Draymond Green, NBA Champion P.J. Tucker, marketing executive Paul Rivera, and business partner Maverick Carter.
“To be able to give us a lane of opportunity. You know, we’ve gone so long with not being heard. Like one of my biggest aspirations, one of my biggest goals was like — how the f-ck can I create voice and power for us as Black creators, as Black people? Not only to create the lane but also to be able to gain and own our lane. That’s what it’s all about, man,” James said on The Shop.
His heart posture was no different as he would enter large buildings dedicated to those who had cemented their legacy. Even by the ages of 17 and 18, James already believed one day he would also have a building created in the legacy he was going to forge in the league and beyond.
“I mean, you remember in my younger days I used to walk around here and we used to go to Bo to train. You know, we used to be in Mia Hamm, we used to be in Michael’s building, you know, doing meetings and things of that nature. And I used to always walk through those hallways and have these meetings or work out on those courts and I’d be like, I’m getting me one of these,” James explained during the episode.
He continued: “First time I stepped on campus, I was 17, 18-years-old. I was like, Bron, you gotta get one of these. And, how are you gonna be different but inspiring at the same time than all the other athletes? Everyone has their own building because of what they contributed to not only the sport but also outside of their sport. But I wanted to have one man.”
James has proven to accomplish everything he sets his mind to and this was once again reflected when Nike revealed The LeBron James Innovation Center as it intersects sports, tech, and science in 2021, as AfroTech previously mentioned.
“When [LeBron] first came to Nike way back when he was coming out of high school and starting to become a household name, he came to the sports research lab of the time. Even then, he was already an incredible athlete for his age, but we were showing him things that he didn’t know about himself,” Matthew Nurse, Vice President of Nike Sport Research Lab, told AfroTech. “He’s an exceptional basketball player, but he’s also an exceptional athlete, and being an exceptional athlete means you have to look at things holistically.”
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The 84,000-square-foot building serves as a home for all athletes and fosters the rising leaders of science, technology, engineering, and math (STEM) to position “Nike for future decades of game-changing products and experiences for all athletes,” according to the company’s website.
Inside, you will find technologies such as the world’s largest motion-capture installation (400 cameras), 97 force plates, and body-mapping equipment, among others.