I love how the podcast ‘Mind the Game’ reminds us that LeBron is brilliant

OPINION: LeBron James' new podcast reveals that his mental approach to the game is next level.

Los Angeles Lakers forward LeBron James (23) scores as Denver Nuggets forward Michael Porter Jr. (1), defends, becoming the first NBA player to reach 40,000 points in a career, during the first half of an NBA basketball game Saturday, March 2, 2024, in Los Angeles. (AP Photo/Mark J. Terrill)

Editor’s note: The following article is an op-ed, and the views expressed are the author’s own. Read more opinions on theGrio.

I love the new LeBron James podcast “Mind the Game” with LeBron James and JJ Redick because it’s doing so much more than other basketball podcasts. And there’s a lot of NBA podcasts. The NBA has produced more podcasters than any other major sports league in America. 

There are several great ones. “Knuckleheads with Quinton Richardson and Darius Miles.” “All the Smoke” with Matt Barnes and Stephen Jackson. “The ETCs with Kevin Durant.” “The Draymond Green Show.” “The Old Man & the Three” with JJ Redick. “The Why with Dwayne Wade.” These are all really strong shows, but most basketball podcasts are a deep dive into who their guests are and what their basketball journey has been like. They don’t usually get into the nitty-gritty of the game itself. 

Wade’s young show has been fantastic at trying to get into the feelings of his NBA friends as if he were a therapist. But none of these shows go deep into the X’s and O’s of the game like “Mind the Game.” This is like basketball graduate school classroom stuff. I have been watching the NBA for decades — I remember when Larry Bird and Magic Johnson were rookies. A lot of the time on “Mind the Game,” I have no idea what they’re talking about. They’re going on about “floppy” and “America’s Play” and “X5”; they might as well be speaking Greek. But I am getting something out of it.


What I’m getting is a dive into the basketball mind of LeBron James and how he sees the game. And the message that’s coming through is this man is a genius. His mental approach to the game is next level. I don’t mean mental toughness. I mean his intellectual ability to comprehend and see the game. In one episode, he explained that sometimes in a huddle, the coach will draw up a play and then he’ll look at the defense and he’ll tell his teammates to flip the play, i.e., run it in the opposite way. James says most NBA players cannot conceive of what that looks like without having it drawn up for them. James said he was able to flip a play in his mind while on the floor when he was 10 years old. 

This is not specifically about being smart or dumb. I look at smart or dumb as how much accurate information have you acquired and how quickly and accurately are you able to process that information. What we’re talking about here is something else — it’s the ability to use your mind as a video projector. He can see images in his mind so sharply, and he can manipulate those images so quickly that it’s almost like he can see the future because he can precisely envision things in his mind’s eye. 

The big message I’m getting from “Mind The Game” is that James has a very powerful mind. So often, elite Black athletes are explained away as being athletic freaks. They say he’s dominant because he’s bigger, stronger and more athletic than the rest of them. Well, James is for sure bigger, stronger and more athletic than most of the NBA, but on top of all that, he has a supercomputer in his skull and that is a big part of his success.

Touré, theGrio.com

Touré is a host and Creative Director at theGrio. He is the host of Masters of the Game on theGrioTV. He is also the host and creator of the docuseries podcast “Being Black: The ’80s” and the animated show “Star Stories with Toure” which you can find at TheGrio.com/starstories. He is also the host of the podcast “Toure Show” and the podcast docuseries “Who Was Prince?” He is the author of eight books including the Prince biography Nothing Compares 2 U and the ebook The Ivy League Counterfeiter.