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LeBron James' boasts about his basketball intellect have become a favorite NBA world meme

Scott Davis   

LeBron James' boasts about his basketball intellect have become a favorite NBA world meme
  • LeBron James has an incredible basketball IQ.
  • James has become a meme for often reminding people of his IQ and claiming to have predicted things before they happen.

LeBron James is one of the smartest players in NBA history, and he is happy to tell everyone about it.

For years, James has been praised by teammates, opponents, and analysts for his high "basketball IQ" — from his ability to read defenses, know other teams' plays, and recall basketball minutiae that escapes many others.

James is rightly proud of this. However, in recent months, it's also turned him into a meme in the basketball world, as fans have caught onto James' penchant for claiming to know things before they happen.

This occurred on Sunday after the Los Angeles Lakers' Game 1 win over the Memphis Grizzlies. While praising teammate Austin Reaves, an undrafted second-year guard who scored 23 points in the victory, James said he knew that Reaves was an NBA-caliber player.

"It's not surprising to me. I knew from the first practice that we had when we grabbed him that he wasn't going to be a two-way player for long," James said, referring to Reaves' two-way contract between the NBA and G League.

"A couple weeks went by, I knew he was gonna get a guaranteed contract at some point. I've been around the game long enough to know great basketball IQ players, and I know the type of players that fit with my game, and I knew Austin would be that right away."

Fans immediately pounced on James' latest boast about his own clairvoyance.

Googling "LeBron James lying" yields plenty of video compilations, containing various situations where James perhaps stretched the truth about what he knows on a subject.

Within almost all of those compilations is an old interview with James in which he said he predicted the night Kobe Bryant scored 81 points against the Toronto Raptors in 2006 — the second-highest scoring performance in NBA history.

"I was at home watching the game ... Before the game even started, I said he was probably gonna score 70 tonight. I don't know what made me say that ... When he got to, like, 70, I was like, well he might as well go for 80 now."

James is at least partially aware of these memes. When James' show "The Shop" did a livestream during a "Thursday Night Football" game, NFL cornerback Jalen Ramsey made note of the memes, saying, "Now 'Bron, you know what they be saying on Twitter right now — they say you be capping." (Capping is a slang term meaning "to lie.")

James laughed and said, "I only speak the truth, baby!"

While the "lying" compilations extend to topics beyond basketball, there is still a through-line: James reminding everyone of how much he knows.

He's done this before. In 2015, James defended himself against accusations that he gets head coaches fired by saying his "huge basketball IQ" requires his input into the game plans.

"People get it so misconstrued because I'm a smart basketball player and I've voiced my opinion about certain things ... What do you guys want me to do? Turn my brain off because I have a huge basketball IQ? If that's what they want me to do, I'm not going to do it because I've got so much to give to the game."

After a playoff game in 2018, James broke down an entire play, beat by beat, during a media session then stopped and said, "It's kinda crazy I can replay all the plays in my head, huh?"

Of course, these boasts are not without merit — just about anyone who has seen James up-close has come away impressed by his knowledge.

"He can explain this game forward and back," former Cavs teammate Iman Shumpert told VladTV in 2020. "It's unbelievable. You talk about someone who knows the playbook, knows where everybody's supposed to be, knows the other teams' coaches' playbook, style of coaching, how his ball club is gonna play. 'Bron's one of them.

"Like, we'll be going into Philly tonight, he'll be like, 'They just hired their new defensive coach, but he was at Georgetown for three years, and I played for him one time at camp, and this is how he's gonna play us.' And you're like, 'What?"

James will just be sure to tell everyone about it.

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