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Posted at 02:11 AM ET, 06/22/2012

How LeBron James focused for games: Reading books. Tell the kids.

Miami Heat star LeBron James had a somewhat surprising practice that he used to focus before games, including during the final series in which he led his team to the National Basketball Association championship: He read books. Tell the kids.

James, who went from high school straight into the National Basketball Association, bypassing college, was seen before and even after games reading one book after another, one genre after another.

There was “The Hunger Games,” and the other books in the science fiction trilogy by Suzanne Collins. There were, according to ESPN, books on history, biographies, psychology and more. He read sitting in front of his locker “The Pact,” about three boys from tough backgrounds deciding to go to college and then medical school.

According to this story by ESPN’s by Michael Wilbon (who used to be a colleague of mine at The Washington Post), James decided that he could focus on his game better if he spent some time alone reading, so he called up his friend and business associate, Maverick Carter, and asked for some book suggestions.

Carter recommended titles such as “The Post-American World” by Fareed Zakaria and Malcolm Gladwell’s “The Tipping Point.” According to Wilbon, James came up on his own with the “The Hunger Games” trilogy as well as a book titled “Decoded” by his friend, Jay-Z.

Wilbon wrote in this story:

“Where cynics saw a ballplayer doing something for the cameras, I saw a chance, whatever LeBron’s motivation, for a role model to use his influence to make an impact, intentional or not.... If LeBron is reading, then reading must be fairly cool. Is there a better message the world’s best basketball player could send?”

I can’t think of one offhand, except, perhaps, to be gracious and humble, which James was in his public remarks after he led the Heat to the championship on Thursday night and was named the most valuable player of the final series against the Oklahoma City Thunder.

Tell the kids that, too.

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By  |  02:11 AM ET, 06/22/2012

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