— -- WASHINGTON, D.C. -- LeBron James has changed his tone from deep disappointment to resigned acceptance in the days since President-elect Donald Trump defeated Hillary Clinton, James' preferred candidate.
"I mean, he's our president," James said before the Cleveland Cavaliers held shootaround Friday morning in preparation for the Washington Wizards. "And no matter if you agree with it or disagree with it, he's the guy, and we all have to figure out a way that we can make America as great as it can be. We all have to do our part. Our nation has never been built on one guy, anyway. It's been built on multiple guys, multiple people in power, multiple people having a dream and making it become a reality by giving back to the community, giving back to the youth, doing so many great things.
"So obviously we always had a guy that has the No. 1 position of power, and that's the president of the United States, but it's never been built on one guy. So we all have to figure out a way that we can better our country because we all know that and we all feel it. This is the best country in the world, so we all have to do our part. It's not about him at all. Especially not for me and what I do."
Should the Cavs win a repeat championship this season, James said he would have to consider accepting a trip back to the White House under the Trump administration.
"We'll have to cross that road, I guess," James said. "We'll see. I would love to have to cross that road."
The question of whether an invite from Trump would be accepted was spurred by Richard Jefferson's recent Snapchat post when he congratulated his team on being the last NBA squad to ever visit the White House.
"Words cannot express the honor I feel being the last team to visit the White House tomorrow," Jefferson wrote.
The 16-year veteran said the post was meant to be in jest but hinted that all jokes have a bit of truth in them.
"I don't get into all that stuff," Jefferson said. "I like to crack jokes. I crack jokes about the basketball court being turned into a croquet [court]. That was funny. That was funny. That was funny. I just look across this league, there's been other players with 'scheduling conflicts' as they like to call it, not necessarily a political stance. But I could see other scheduling conflicts coming up.
"More than anything, you have to respect the presidency. If you have different views, you're allowed to have different views. That's what's amazing about this country. We're not going to imprison people with different views. But if you want to stand up and you want to say, 'Hey look, my views don't coincide with this current administration,' then you have opportunities, especially being leaders in your respective communities."
Clearly James' views do not align with the platform that Trump ran on. He said that seeing Trump win Ohio's 18 electoral votes, after he had publicly endorsed Clinton and even attended a rally with her in Cleveland two days before the election, was a blow.
"It was difficult," James said. "I mean, it's difficult watching, period. Me and my wife didn't go to bed until 4 o'clock in the morning. It's very difficult seeing what happened not only in our state but in our country. But like I said, it is what it is. That's the past. We got to live in the present and [figure out] how we can make the future better."
James' future, he says, will involve some sort of collaboration with Obama once he is out of office. But that is still to be determined.
"We will," James said. "Yesterday, obviously, wasn't the time or the place for that, but we looked at each other and we know there's still a lot to be done. We will regroup."
It is a relationship that has grown beyond player-to-president and is now man-to-man.
"It is surreal," James said of his connection with Obama. "Never in a million years did I think I would be this close with a president of the United States with the No. 1 biggest position of power in the world. We just have a real genuine relationship. We've got so many things in common we can talk about, not only from sports but community service and growing up in the inner city and figuring out ways that we can help the youth.
"Like I said, my life has definitely been pretty awesome. I never take it for granted when I get an opportunity to be around the president, be around the first lady. They've become really good friends, and that's something that's special to me and my family."