At halftime of the Cavaliers/Pacers playoff game on Thursday night, it didn’t look like LeBron James was going to spend a minute of his post-game press conference talking about Kendrick Lamar and his new album, Damn. Cleveland trailed Indiana 74-49 at the half of Game 3, and all signs pointed to the Pacers winning the game and climbing back into their first-round series with the Cavaliers.
But then, LeBron went all LeBron in the second half, putting up 28 points, 6 rebounds, and 7 assists to finish with 41 points, 13 rebounds, and 12 assists, which allowed the Cavaliers to overcome a massive 26-point deficit and win 119-114 to take a commanding 3-0 series lead. So LeBron’s post-game press conference was much lighter than it would have been if the Cavaliers had lost.
LeBron didn’t have to answer many questions about his team’s defense or their inability to knock down shots in the first half. Instead, he got the chance to give his opinion on Kendrick's latest project and to talk about why he is able to relate to Kendrick’s music so much after a reporter asked him about Damn. And LeBron was more than happy to take a minute to discuss something other than basketball.
"I haven’t stopped listening to it since he sent it to me," LeBron said. "I don’t even know if that was last week or not before it came out. The guy is an unbelievable talent. His wordplay and his lyrics is unbelievable. And it hit home for me at times because I was a kid that grew up in the inner city. His story of, the notion of you either play basketball or sell drugs or that’s it. There’s no out. You become a statistic. As an African-American kid growing up in the inner city, they don’t believe that you can get out and become something. That’s why I’m able to relate to a lot of his lyrics and relate to a lot of his stories. So he’s an unbelievable artist, an unbelievable person. I’m glad he’s able to put those words on to a track and then for all of us to be able to hear it. For me, I definitely appreciate it."
This is obviously not the first time LeBron has reviewed Damn. He gave us all a preview of the album before it dropped last week, and he’s also been on the Kendrick bandwagon for quite some time now. But it’s still kind of crazy to hear him talking about Kendrick’s impact just minutes after putting together one of his best playoff performances in recent memory.