CLEVELAND (AP) — LeBron James is jamming one of college football’s biggest games into his busy schedule.
James and his Cleveland teammates plan to attend Saturday’s Ohio State-Michigan game in Columbus before they travel to Philadelphia and play the 76ers on Sunday. A rabid Ohio State fan, James has been on the sideline at Ohio Stadium in the past, but not for a game he said is on his "bucket list."
This year’s matchup between the No. 2 Buckeyes and No. 3 Wolverines has national championship implications.
The defending NBA champion Cavs hosted Dallas on Friday night before they will take in the OSU-Michigan rivalry.
"We have an opportunity to go down to Columbus and watch an unbelievable battle between two great colleges," James said following Friday’s win.
Cleveland coach Tyronn Lue said the entire team will attend the game and then fly to Philadelphia. Lue met Ohio State coach Urban Meyer when the Cavaliers were in Columbus to play an exhibition game last month.
James and his teammates also attended several Cleveland Indians’ postseason games when they reached the World Series. Saturday’s showdown will be another big moment.
"Stuff like this doesn’t always come around, the World Series in your backyard and our Buckeyes have been very successful, but you don’t know how many times it’s going to happen " James said. "A two-three matchup, that’s perfect timing."
James doesn’t plan on addressing the Buckeyes before the game.
"It hasn’t come up," he said.
James has more than a rooting interest in this year’s game. He has also provided Ohio State’s players with cleats inspired by his signature Nike sneakers to wear against Michigan. He said the idea was hatched 10 years ago, but it took time before the cleat could be developed.
"It’s been something that’s been in the works for years now," he said. "We finally was able to put together a shoe and work with the Nike football lab to put a cleat on there. It’s always a hard process when you turn a basketball shoe into a cleat, so we finally was able to find a shoe that fits the Nike lab football cleat."
James said some of the players tested them this week at practice before deciding whether to play in them.
"It was just like, great timing, I guess, that it came together when they were playing Michigan in the biggest game of the season," he said.
It’s also perfect timing that James’ cleats are being unveiled when Ohio State is facing Michigan, which this season is wearing Jordan Brand, sports gear designed by Michael Jordan, whose "Jump Man" logo adorns their uniforms.
James, though, said it was just a coincidence that the cleats came out this week.
Ohio State is one of four schools whose basketball teams wear exclusively James apparel and sneakers.