Mar 11, 2022 - Things to Do

"King James" premieres at Steppenwolf

Two guys talking at a table

Actors Chris Perfetti and Glenn Davis rehearse "King James." Photo courtesy of Joel Moorman and Steppenwolf

Originally scheduled for 2020 but delayed due to the pandemic, the world premiere of "King James" launches this weekend at the Steppenwolf Theatre.

Why it matters: The show is expected to be the next Steppenwolf show to make it to Broadway.

  • It might seem like it's all about basketball, but the play instead explores the relationships and passion that only debating LeBron James can bring.

What they're saying: "It's not really a play about LeBron," playwright and Steppenwolf ensemble member Rajiv Joseph tells Axios. "It's a play about two sports fans and their competing opinions of LeBron James, and sort of how fandom and discussion and argument over sports can help and hurt our relationships with people."

  • "I am a playwright, but I'm also a diehard sports fan. These are two very important parts of my life."

Flashback: Joseph, who co-wrote the screenplay for the Kevin Costner movie "Draft Day," has found balance between writing about sports and relationships in past work.

  • "My hope for the play is that it will resonate with sports fans and non-sports fans alike. You want to have interesting characters who are relatable and that you enjoy being in the same room with, and it doesn't really matter about the sports."

The intrigue: A play centered around LeBron and Cleveland on stage at a Chicago institution could be considered blasphemous.

  • "One of the great sort of unanswerable debates is LeBron versus Jordan. I embrace it. I think that's part of the excitement of this. I hope it results in a spirited debate."

What's next: "King James" opens Sunday with a five-week run before heading to Los Angeles, home of LeBron's Lakers.


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