Ignore the Critics: LeBron James Is Great at Karaoke

Slate's Culture Blog
Jan. 22 2013 2:13 PM

LeBron James Is Great at Karaoke

Over the weekend, a number of Miami Heat players took the stage for teammate Shane Battier’s “South Beach Battioke,” a karaoke fundraiser for his youth charity, the Take Charge Foundation. Chief among them, of course, was LeBron James, who sang Michael Jackson’s “Rock With You” and then was joined by Dwyane Wade for Shai’s “If I Ever Fall in Love.” LeBron’s already taking a lot of heat for this performance, which is, admittedly, a bit tone-deaf. But I’d like to rise up in defense.

I have a very strong belief about karaoke: It doesn’t matter if you’re a good singer. It matters if you’re an enthusiastic performer. And while LBJ’s MJ is only OK, the Shai double-team with Wade is a fantastic karaoke moment. They pull a flabbergasted woman out of the audience, install her in a big white throne, and serenade her. LeBron gets down on his knees to pledge his love, and eventually ends up mock-battling with Wade for her hand. Like the onstage subjects of the routines in Magic Mike, the woman is obviously delighted, and the crowd devours it. And LeBron is a showman! He’s loose, funny, and silly—all the things he rarely lets himself be in public anymore.

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I haven’t yet seen video of Battier’s performance; I assume it wasn’t flashy but made his teammates better. Mike Miller, it should be said, has a pretty tight flow. Chris Andersen cannot rap. But LeBron and Dwyane crushed it—even though they can’t sing.

Dan Kois is Slate's culture editor and a contributing writer to the New York Times Magazine.