After maintaining a pretty low profile during the postseason — well, as low a profile as a 6-foot-9, 270-pound, most-scrutinized-player-in-the-world can, anyway — LeBron James has re-emerged since his Miami Heat won the 2011-12 NBA championship. He's resumed tweeting after a self-imposed 140-character hiatus that began when the regular season ended, he's making random appearances at weddings and, along with Heat teammates Dwyane Wade and Chris Bosh, he's taking a trip through the TV talk show circuit.
On Tuesday, James appeared on CBS's "Late Show with David Letterman," receiving a somewhat surprising standing ovation from the studio audience in Manhattan's Ed Sullivan Theater — I mean, as much as people love a winner, plenty of folks remain determined to continue hating James. Much of that anger, obviously, still stems from "The Decision" and the way James left the Cleveland Cavaliers in the summer of 2010.
Like many people, Letterman — a famously rabid hoops fan from the roundball-mad state of Indiana — didn't much care for that, and he kicked off LeBron's fifth "Late Show" appearance by (gently) throwing some elbows.
[...] The first offering from the late-night host: ''Well, now that you've got this out of your system, are you ready to go back to Cleveland and play some ball?''
James laughed it off. ''Right now, I'll play no ball right now,'' James said. Letterman had taken a jab or two at James in the past about his decision to leave Cleveland for Miami, saying Tuesday that he was ''furious'' about the move. [...] But on Tuesday, there were no mistakes for James and Letterman to dwell on for too long. Letterman asked the three-time NBA MVP how winning a championship changes things.
''I went from being ringless on Wednesday night to, you know, having a ring on Thursday night,'' James said. ''So it changed that.''
Well, technically, he doesn't get the ring until the Heat open the 2012-13 season, but yes, LeBron. For sure. An accurate statement of fact, there.
Letterman later followed up by asking if winning a title with the Cavs — the team that drafted James out of Akron's St. Vincent-St. Mary High School with the No. 1 overall pick in the 2003 NBA draft and where he spent the first seven years of his NBA career — would have been somehow better or sweeter than earning his first championship with the Heat. James, predictably, demurred.
"I think, the feeling that I had on Thursday, I could have been on Mars and won that championship and felt amazing," he said, tendering a non-answer we all knew was coming but was still pretty weird. "It was better than I expected."
Hit the jump for more quotes from the exchange, plus video of Letterman's full 12-minute, two-segment interview with the NBA Finals MVP.
After a break, Letterman asked LeBron what exactly was going on in that photo of him with those two newlyweds down in Miami.
"Are you performing weddings now? What really is that?" Letterman asked. "Does that come with the championship?"
"I think it does come with the championship," James said. "One thing in common — all three of us, we all have rings."
Classic comedy writing; try the veal. Not as funny as their back-and-forth on the newly minted Brooklyn Nets, owned in part by James' longtime pal Jay-Z.
"Now that the Nets have moved to Brooklyn, what does that do to you and your teammates?" Letterman asked.
"Uh ... it does absolutely nothing to me and my teammates," James replied with a smile before letting loose the kind of easy laugh that tends to come when considering the contrast in class between your world champions and a team that, new digs or no, is still 58-172 over the past three seasons.
And yet that still isn't as funny as the Nets putting a giant "happy birthday, please sign with us" billboard outside Deron Williams' house on Tuesday. Then again, that's a hard joke to follow.
Earlier Tuesday, Bosh appeared on ABC's "Live! With Kelly" alongside Kelly Ripa, which is great, because I have always thought of him as Miami's Regis Philbin. While James chopped it up with Dave, Wade showed up for NBC's "Late Night with Jimmy Fallon," and on Wednesday, the Big 3 will appear on "The View" on ABC, and in a taped interview with Oprah Winfrey on her network on Sunday night. So, basically, if you're not very into the Heat, just don't watch TV over the next week. Or fire up Netflix Instant and watch "Twin Peaks," like I am. Special Agent Dale Cooper's pretty neat.
Video via HEATPOSTERIZED.