Alex Rodriguez’s 211-game suspension for his link to a performance-enhancing drug clinic shook the sporting world, and disappointed legions of his fans.
Basketball great LeBron James called the suspension “unfortunate” for its effect on those who looked up to the New York Yankees player, who is the highest-paid man in baseball.
“It’s unfortunate that we have a story like Alex Rodriguez … You never want to see controversy because it’s a direct effect to the kids that’s coming after us,” the Miami Heat forward told “Good Morning America” anchor Robin Roberts in an interview in his hometown of Akron, Ohio.
“So many kids look up to us — as role models, and as leaders, and as inspiration to do what’s right,” the 28-year-old two-time NBA champion said in the interview that aired today.
James said he had two special role models.
“Well, my mother was definitely number one on my list … no matter what I was going through, she always kind of kept the outside away from me. And I have no idea how she did it… and also, you know, Michael Jordan was high as well,” he said, naming the iconic basketball player who won six NBA championships with the Chicago Bulls.
“You know, Michael Jordan was — gave me a dream that I could, you know, possibly reach someday. I wanted to be able to fly in the air, and make game-winning shots, and stick my tongue out at the wrong time, and all that,” he said, laughing.
Jordan made his mark on generations of basketball players and fans, and James hopes to have that kind of impact over the course of his career, which he knows won’t last forever.
“I mean, the day I started being a professional athlete, I knew. You know, this is the longest, shortest job, career that you have,” he told Roberts.
James is riding high on his team’s back-to-back NBA Championships, but he’ll soon have to decide if the Heat will remain his home. He can become a free agent next summer.
Asked how he would decide the future of his career, James replied: “I’m happy right now being in Miami, obviously, winning two championships in a row. And hopefully, everything works out. But you know, when that time comes upon us, I’ll be able to tackle that. But happiness in life, and what you do makes it easier to show up every day.”
James won three trophies at the ESPY awards last month.
“What’s it like to be recognized among your peers like that?” Roberts asked.
He replied: “(It) means a lot to me. It means that I’m just — I’m holding up my end of the bargain,” he said.
Watch “Good Morning America” on Tuesday to see part 2 of Robin Roberts’ interview with LeBron James.