Game On: LeBron James Discusses His Collaboration With PlayStation
In an exclusive interview with Hypebeast, King James speaks on his controller and PS5 cover designs plus his longtime love of gaming.
LeBron James and PlayStation go way back — back to when the yet-to-be-crowned King was in fourth grade, as a matter of fact. “My friends and I used to play Shinobi a lot,” says LeBron, nodding to the cult-favorite samurai hack-and-slash from 2002. “We were an ultra-competitive group, even back then, so we were always going at it on PlayStation 2.”
Of course, things are a lot different for LeBron now than they were back in 2002. In the 21 years since then, he’s cemented himself as one of the greatest NBA players ever — the league’s all-time scoring leader and a four-time champion, four-time MVP, four-time Finals MVP and 19-time All-Star, among a laundry list of other accolades — become a community leader who opened the “I Promise” school in his hometown of Akron, Ohio, and raised three children with his wife Savannah, two of whom, Bronny and Bryce are budding basketball stars in their own right.
But with all those changes, LeBron still loves to game. “If I happen to have a day off and I’m not training, I like to wake up early in the morning, before anyone else in the house is up, and play video games,” he tells Hypebeast with a conspiratorial grin. His favorite title? Madden, a game that he notes he’s “logged more time on than any other, for sure.”
Now, LeBron is adding another “first” to his list of accolades, as he’s the first outside-of-the-company figure, or “PlayStation Playmaker” to collaborate with Sony on custom PlayStation accessories. King James has worked with the Sony team to create a limited-edition DualSense wireless controller and a PlayStation 5 console cover, each inspired by the kids at his “I Promise” school and his personal belief in hard work and dedication.
Fuscia, blue, yellow, white and green hits are sprinkled, graffiti-style across both items, making for a bold initial visual statement that reveals its overarching inspirations upon closer inspection. The trackpad reads “Nothing is Given, Everything is Earned,” a statement that LeBron is quick to explain when asked. “Us kids from Akron don’t shy away from hard work,” he says, noting that he hopes to instill similar values in the students at his “I Promise” school. “In gaming and in life, you don’t win just by showing up. Where you put your time and energy is where you excel.”
LeBron acknowledges it’s “super surreal” that three generations of PlayStation have come and gone since he was playing Shinobi with his friends in Akron. “It feels like it wasn’t that long ago I was just a kid, unboxing my very first PlayStation and being so excited to grab that controller and set everything up,” he mentions. “To sit here today and have my own [PlayStation collaboration] is something I could have never imagined, but I don’t take it for granted.”
As our conversation winds down, LeBron notes that he’s glad his love of gaming was passed down to his sons, both of whom, he says, enjoy playing PlayStation just as much as he does, if not more so. Don’t think, however, that King James would ever let Bronny or Bryce win if they played Madden though: they’d have to beat him fair and square.
“I’d be just as competitive with them as they would with me,” he says with a laugh. “That’s what it’s all about!”
The LeBron James x PlayStation DualSense controller and PlayStation 5 console cover are available for pre-order now and release via the PlayStation webstore on Thursday, July 27. The MSRP for the controller is set at $79.99 USD, while the console cover retails for $64.99 USD.