LeBron James finally confirmed what has long been rumored.
No, LeBron didn’t inform ESPN’s Rachel Nichols of moving plans to Los Angeles next summer. He did, however, substantiate a more persistent report: Yes, he’s the NBA’s cheapest player. Nichols broached the subject in an interview with James and Dwyane Wade that will air during Monday Night Football:
— Rachel Nichols (@Rachel__Nichols) October 15, 2017
James: “That is so, so, so, so false—ly true. That is so falsely true.”
Wade: “He ain’t using his phone if it ain’t Wi-Fi.”
James: “No, I’m not doing that. I’m not turning on data roaming. I’m not buying no apps. I still got Pandora with commercials. … I’m not.”
Nichols: “You know you’re rich, right?”
James: “I’m not paying for it. I’m not paying.”
The semi-regular roasting of LeBron’s spending habits has become a tradition almost as dependable as the Cleveland Cavaliers superstar’s string of seven straight NBA Finals appearances. He was, after all, ranked second behind only Portuguese soccer star Cristiano Ronaldo on Forbes magazine’s list of highest-paid athletes, earning a cool $86.2 million last year between his salary and endorsements.
The first I can remember hearing of LeBron’s cheapness (cheapitude? cheapishness? cheapity?) was 2008, when during the Eastern Conference semifinals against the Boston Celtics the Cleveland Scene cited sources suggesting he left a $10 tip on an $800 bill at the city’s XO Prime Steaks restaurant. LeBron’s camp later called the issue “a misunderstanding,” and he sent over “an appropriate tip” the following day, after his 1.25 percent gratuity made the internet rounds and became a running joke.
Then there was a 2011 report indicating Banana Boat crew members James, Wade, Carmelo Anthony and Chris Paul all stiffed the staff after being comped in Las Vegas for Paul’s bachelor party. A year later, LeBron’s court again came under heavy fire when they rejected a $3,000 birthday cake for their king after convincing a Miami-based baker to provide one on short notice during the holiday rush.
Wade and wife Gabrielle Union then tripled down on LeBron’s spending habits during an appearance on Kelly Ripa’s show in July 2016, calling him an “exact tipper” who will only use his phone if he has access to Wi-Fi, even if he’s just flown a private plane to a board a private yacht on vacation in Spain.
For the record, a commercial-free Pandora subscription costs $4.99 per month. That would be 0.00018 percent of LeBron’s current $2.77 million monthly salary from the Cavs alone. He also made roughly $30 million for his ownership stake in Beats Electronics when Apple purchased the company in 2014.
Verizon currently charges $10 a day for international data roaming on Samsung devices. James holds sponsorship deals from both Verizon and Samsung that reportedly exceed $100 million combined. That’s enough to cover 10 million days of roaming charges — or the next 2,740 years — so I wouldn’t be too worried about sending a text the next time you’re off the yacht’s Wi-Fi. But, hey, to each his own.
You do you, LeBron. Just don’t forget to tip the waitstaff on your way out.
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