LeBron James premiered his unscripted barbershop chat series covering a wide range of topics from being black in America to hating on "Hamilton."
The multifaceted talent that is LeBron James unfurled another side to his fascinating mind with the premiere of HBO's "The Shop," an unscripted series that features unfiltered conversations.
As the only white man in the barbershop, James and the other African-Americans explained to Jon Stewart the beauty of the black barbershop and the rich, honest, raw conversations that take place there. The idea behind the show is to pull the curtain back on those meaningful conversations by sharing them with the viewing audience.
WHEN TO QUIT
Stewart revealed that he knew when to quit when he realized his drive had shifted. "I began to make decisions based on laziness," he said. "They'd pitch me an idea and they'd say, 'We'll go down at noon. You put on your suit, we'll go out and do a bit.' And I'll go, 'What if we did that at rehearsal and I didn't wear a suit; I just wore the shit I'm wearing right now?' At that point, I was like, 'Oh, I'm lazy about this.'"
For James, he expects he'll know when his time has come after 15 years in professional basketball, but it's not here yet. "I know exactly what the f--k I need to do, I know how to do it and I know how I'm gonna get the best out of myself," he said. "I don't need you to push me. Once it gets to a point where you still need people to push you at a certain age, then you don't need to be doing it no more."
BECOMING LEBRON JAMES
James stayed out of this conversation, because as much as he doesn't deny that he's the greatest, he's still humble. But Green wants him to own it and be that, because black athletes and leaders have often shied away from speaking the truth about the black experience in America, and that's something the youth needs to hear.
"I think Bron over the last four years became LeBron James. And it wasn't nothing to do with winning and it wasn't nothing to do with stats," said Green. "He found himself. People didn't start to view him as they view him now, until he became that force, that man to say, 'I'm here.' I feel like for years, he shied away from saying 'I'm here'. And when he started to say, 'F--k y'all, I'm here.' That's when he became who he is, and no one would have ever said that until he did it himself."
The group then compared him to the power and influence of Michael Jordan and Muhammad Ali, the latter who was willing to go to jail so he could speak out. James said that comes from getting out of your own ego and realizing that what you're doing and saying may not be for you; it may be for the next person who follows your path.
THE POWER OF THE N-WORD
After Snoop Dogg argued for the usage of the n-word, admitting that it's just hard-wired into his brain at this point, Carmichael suggested that the word has too much power in the black community, and in general.
"Very important, I think, is, don't have any buttons people can just press," he said of the word. "'Cause what I have seen is people snap and drag white dudes for saying it and get expelled from school and their lives ruined because they had a button.
"I'm saying that for any word. Be cautious that you're triggered so easily that you disrupt your own life and well-being. I think any communication between two human beings should be full of respect and intentions should be checked. Are there bigger fish to fry? Yes. I'm much more concerned with the wording of a contract than that word being used."
That said, the word does still have power, because of the intent behind it. James recalled when he and his family found it sprayed on the gate of his home and he had to explain to his young kids what it meant, what the intent was behind it and the choices they have as to how to move forward from it, or let it tear them down.
"No matter how big you can become, no matter how much influence you think you got, or do have, you're African-American, it doesn't matter," he said. "You're still back. You're still black in America."
And yet, everyone agreed that black people have tremendous influence over popular culture in that same country. "We move everything. We move the way people dress, we move the way people think, we move the way people dance, the music people listen to, we move the way people play sports," Jame said.
"And the way they talk," Snoop added, talking about how when touring worldwide he's met so many fans who learned English from his music. "Black people are more respected outside of America than they are in America."
Inevitably, talk came to "Hamilton," which incorporates hip-hop culture into a Broadway environment. "I think the frustration comes from me having to watch people pretend 'Hamilton' was good," Carmichael said. "People from the upper west side telling me what good rap was. 'Hamilton' was at best, the best community center performance that I've ever seen. It was a piece of shit. It was terrible."
Stewart tried to argue that comparing "Hamilton" to Snoop and other rap greats isn't the right comparison to make, instead saying it should be compared to "Cats." "I don't even know what that is," was the response he got back, both proving his point and, kind of, Carmichael's.