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LeBron James calls ‘Black Panther’ one of the ‘greatest movies I’ve ever seen’

INDEPENDENCE, OHIO– LeBron James gave a rave review of Marvel’s Black Panther on Tuesday, calling it “one of the greatest movies I’ve ever seen.”

Since its release last week, Black Panther has earned $411.7 million at the box office. But for James, the commercial success of the movie is less important than the representation it provides for African-Americans.

“For me as a kid growing up, I never thought that I would see a black superhero,” he said after the Cavaliers’ shootaround on Tuesday morning. “I loved superheroes growing up, I’m going to be honest. I loved Batman, I loved Superman, I loved Spider-Man and Iron Man. But I never thought I could be them, because they were always white Americans, or white. So I kind of looked up more to athletes, and rappers and people in my neighborhood, because they were people of color.

“So to see how powerful Black Panther is and how powerful his tribe was and his people around him, it just gave you a sense of yes, not only can we be the president of the United States like Barack Obama, we can also be a superhero. And Black Panther, that’s so dope for me and so dope for my kids to see that.”

James said he saw the movie for the first time last night with his wife, Savannah, but said he liked it so much that he would probably see it “three or four” more times. He also said that his sons saw it before him, and that he jokingly ribbed them over it. For James, the movie itself is coming out at exactly the right time. He even compared it to Larry Bird and Earvin “Magic” Johnson coming into the league together in the 1980s, and Michael Jordan’s dominance in the 90s.

“It’s almost like when somebody found out how to make a peanut butter and jelly sandwich,” he said. “It’s like the greatest thing to happen at that point in time. Black Panther is that because right now in society where we’re talking ‘Black Lives Matter’, and equality and things of that nature, and we see a community in Wakanda who was basically shielding themselves away from everybody because they felt what they had and how they protected their own was the best way for them to survive. And then towards the end they said, well in order for us to survive as a people we have to be one. In order for us to be as great as we can be, we all have to be one.”

James’ praise of the film comes at an interesting time, when he himself was just compared to the titular superhero days ago. When the San Antonio Spurs were in town on Sunday, head coach Gregg Popovich said that James provides the same level of inspiration that Black Panther does.

“When you look at this guy, all the millions of dollars, tens of millions of dollars he’s given, tens of millions of kids that see him, that are inspired by him, it’s kind of like the Black Panther movie,” Popovich said. “How cool is that for kids to see that? To have that superhero. LeBron has been like that for a long time.”

At the end of the day, for James, Black Panther is bigger than just a movie.

“I’m proud to be an African-American right now watching that movie, I’ll tell you that,” he said. “That stuff means so much for us because all we have is dreams. All we have is dreams. When you have something that can make that dream become a reality, whether it’s a superhero or someone that made it out of your community like myself, it allows our dreams to become actuality. It’s a huge thing.”

Ashley is a former basketball player who covers the Cleveland Cavaliers, Indians and high school sports for NEO Sports Insiders. She also covers the Cavs for SB Nation's Fear The Sword. Ashley is a 2015 graduate of John Carroll University and previously worked in political journalism. You can follow her on Twitter @AshleyBastock42

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