Four-time NBA champion and two-time Olympic gold medalist LeBron James has been named the official starter for the centenary running of the Le Mans 24 Hours this weekend.
James, who currently plays for the Los Angeles Lakers and now holds the all-time NBA scoring record, will lower the French flag, signalling the start of the race at 16:00 local time on Saturday.
“There’s nothing like seeing and experiencing sports at their highest level,” James said. “It’s an honor for me to be part of this historic moment in motorsport and help celebrate the centenary of one of the biggest sporting events in the world.
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“I look forward to kicking off this iconic race and watching its world-class drivers compete on Le Mans’ global stage.”
Since 1949, the role of race starter has often been given to a personality from the world of politics, sport, film or industry. Previous official starters include Brad Pitt (2016), Rafael Nadal (2018), Alain Delon (1996), French president Georges Pompidou (1972) and Steve McQueen (1971).
Pierre Fillon, president of the Automobile Club de l’Ouest, says he was delighted that James accepted the invitation.
“I am thrilled to welcome LeBron James to the 24 Hours of Le Mans centenary and thank him most sincerely for accepting our invitation,” said Fillon.
“The 24 Hours of Le Mans is a world-renowned event that, in the past, has welcomed some great names from various fields. LeBron James is a true sporting legend whose list of achievements and records commands respect and admiration. We are looking forward to introducing him to the unique Le Mans atmosphere and the excitement generated by the centenary of the world’s greatest endurance race.”
James is not the only American sporting icon who will be present for the event, as seven-time NFL Super Bowl winner Tom Brady is expected to be on hand to support the HERTZ Team JOTA Porsche effort in Hypercar.