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NBA Hall of Famer Ray Allen on LeBron James’ athletic prowess — and off-court advocacy

With the Los Angeles Lakers’ NBA championship victory Sunday night, LeBron James has further cemented his superstar status. And just a few months shy of his 36th birthday, he doesn’t look to be approaching the end of his remarkable career yet. Hall of Famer and former James teammate Ray Allen joins Amna Nawaz to discuss James’ incredible basketball legacy -- and off-the-court advocacy.

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  • Judy Woodruff:

    With the Los Angeles Lakers' NBA championship victory last night, LeBron James has moved into a league all his own. And it doesn't look like he's done yet, just a few months shy of his 36th birthday.

    Amna Nawaz is back with a look at his career on and off the court.

  • Amna Nawaz:

    Judy, after leading the Los Angeles Lakers to the title last night, LeBron James did something no other NBA great has done. He's now won four NBA titles with three different franchises. That's Miami, Cleveland and now L.A.

    And he did it in his 17th year in the league, averaging nearly 30 points, 12 rebounds, and eight assists a game.

    More now on LeBron's impact both on and off the court from a former teammate and a Hall of Famer himself, Ray Allen.

    Ray Allen, welcome back to the "NewsHour." And thanks for being with us.

    You are, in many ways, uniquely positioned to settle a longstanding debate. When it comes to who is the greatest of all time, LeBron James or Mike Jordan, you played against Jordan. You have played both with and against LeBron.

    After this series, is it over? Can you settle the debate for us?

  • Ray Allen:

    I just truly don't believe that it's a debate.

    And I always say, if you understand sports, it is hard to really understand from generation to generation how those players would stack up. The rules certainly have changed over the years.

    And so now you look at a league that is more conducive to scoring points. When M.J. played, it was a lot more physical. So, me growing up, M.J. Greatly influenced and impacted my career. And playing — having played against both of them, they certainly both gave me fits.

  • Amna Nawaz:

    One of the big differences people often point to between Jordan and LeBron is how they conducted themselves and still do off the court.

    I mean, it's fair to say that Jordan really stuck to sports. He even said: I don't see myself as an activist. I see myself as a basketball player.

    LeBron, in many ways, couldn't be more different. Why do you think that is. Is that a function of who they are or the times, that they have changed?

  • Ray Allen:

    I believe that everybody should have a voice to speak out. Everybody has a voice, but I think everybody should speak out, because everybody is a U.S. citizen in this country that has the ability to speak against something that they don't necessarily agree with.

    And, as athletes, we have such a platform. And it's one thing to say, hey, I wear these tennis shoes, you should try them out, or, hey, drink this drink. That has been the cornerstone ideology of who athletes have been, to endorse a product, because you're great on the court.

    But, at the same token — in the same token, it goes hand in hand with anything that is civic-minded. He sees where he came from. He understands the underprivileged in society, because, as NBA players, we visit inner-city schools. We do programs for kids. Kids come into the practice facility. There's so many different activities where you're next to people who are looking at you and respect you, and they don't have nearly half of what you have.

    And so you always try to speak out for those less fortunate to you. And I think he's done an excellent job, and he continues to do it. And I'm extremely proud of him. And I hope he only sets an example for the young people to see him as to, when they get into this position, that they use their voices and they stay civic-minded as well, regardless of how big they become or how much money they make.

  • Amna Nawaz:

    Ray, I have to ask you, you have know what it feels like to win a title. You know what it looks like.

    And last night looked and felt a little different, right? This is a win in the middle of a pandemic inside this hermetically sealed NBA bubble. It's a win during a year of this national movement for Black Lives Matter. And it was a win for the Lakers without Kobe.

    How do you think all of those things came together in that moment last night?

  • Ray Allen:

    Well, you wouldn't — you wouldn't know that there was a pandemic, if you have seen the events taking place outside the Staples Center.

    They were out there cheering and they were celebrating. I think it — I hope people are being safe. But, in the same token, you know, with everything that people have gone through, for L.A. to be able to celebrate again, you just — it's just something that people needed.

    And so my hats go off to every team that participated and that was able to do it safely. And it certainly was different watching the celebration.

    But I'm sure, in some pockets of the world, people, fans, your nation, they're celebrating and having a great time, and it's a banner that you raise in your rafters one more time for the L.A. Lakers.

  • Amna Nawaz:

    That is Ray Allen, NBA Hall of Famer and one of the greatest three-point shooters of all time, joining us tonight.

    Thank you so much for your time.

  • Ray Allen:

    Thank you, Amna.

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