During Friday's episode of First Take, Stephen A. Smith shed light on the role LeBron James played in meetings with his fellow players on Wednesday evening and the owners on Thursday.
"To call him a leader at this particular moment in time, that would not apply," said Smith. "When you talk to people inside the bubble, let me tell you what I heard. I heard, first of all, he was speaking out of pocket and was talking to the players in a fashion that really turned some of these young cats off. This is a new day. This is a new generation. As we have said on previous shows when cats were out in the streets protesting and things of that nature, just talking about the younger generation, they're not having it anymore. Well, guess what, the younger generation of players were not having what they were hearing from LeBron James because of the fashion in which he spoke to them.
"So when he stormed out of there, I was told it was in part because of that. And he sort of came off like 'I got mine, I don't need this.' And he walked out.
"Now, we later learned the Lakers and the Clippers were the two teams who did not want to participate."
The Lakers and Clippers decided on Thursday morning that they would continue with the playoffs, and that led to a call between two player representatives of each team, the NBPA, Adam Silver, Michael Jordan and a governor from each team still in the playoffs. Smith was told, however, the Lakers had four representatives on the call.
"When everyone thought the meeting was over, LeBron James grabs the mic, and from what I'm told talks for about 15 minutes," said Smith. "And he's talking for about 15 minutes in a fashion that turned everybody off because they had already agreed to what they were going to do moving forward. And he was talking about 'The guys beneath me. I have to look out for the guys beneath me.'
"To the point where you had people saying 'What the hell you mean...beneath you?'
"They didn't say that to him, but they certainly said it to people like myself, Woj and others that were covering the meeting. He came across as if he was the king with some crown and what have you, and it was a real, real turnoff.
"Why is this relevant, ladies and gentleman? It is relevant because you're trying to galvanize folks with your More Than A Vote movement. This is the same LeBron James who has that excellent show executive produced by himself and my man Maverick Carter on The Shop on HBO. Remember, you're talking during that show, you want to be an owner. Well, you already alienated owners when you departed from Cleveland to go [to the Heat] the first time. You obviously were on the verge of alienating owners this time around. And this is a good old boys club. They don't have to let you in as an owner, which is what he ultimately wants."
Smith pointed out how Larry Ellison has tried to purchase an NBA team for years, but the league and owners have so far not let him do so.
"So for LeBron to have these aspirations but really turning people off the way that he has, some of the players, executives, owners...LeBron James needs to be careful. He usually sees the forest for the trees. Over the last two days, that was not the case. He turned a lot of people off by how he tried to come across as if he were big time. He needs to be careful about that, from what I've been told by numerous people that were present."
Smith indicated that the message James conveyed was wanting to put pressure on the owners, but they had already agreed to help the players as he spoke last.
"A lot of people are talking about it in Orlando because of how he came across. He did not look good."