A week after accepting gold at the London Olympics, Miami Heat forward LeBron James took time Sunday to give back.
He also spoke of going back.
As part of his Wheels For Education program in his hometown of Akron, Ohio, James met with 500 third-graders and their families at an Akron Aeros minor-league baseball game, where bicycles and school uniforms were distributed courtesy of the LeBron James Family Foundation.
James, coming off the Heat's 2012 NBA championship and the United States' success in London, also was honored Sunday by Akron Mayor Don Plusquellic.
At Sunday's event, James addressed the matter of a potential fourth Olympic appearance -- something never before done by a U.S. men's Olympic player -- in the 2016 Rio de Janeiro Games.
After offering a noncommittal response last week on the issue, James told the Associated Press that he would consider another go-round at the Games.
"We haven't had that conversation," he said. "But if I'm healthy, I did the math and I'll be 31, and if I have the opportunity to be out there, I will do it. I love it. I love being a part of it and representing my country. I don't know what may happen in four years, but it would be great to be back out there again. Definitely."
James' Heat contract runs through 2015-16, expiring before the Rio de Janeiro Olympics.
James, New York Knicks forward Carmelo Anthony and former San Antonio Spurs center David Robinson are the only three-time U.S. men's basketball medalists, each with two gold and a bronze. James and Anthony also were on the United States team that took gold at the 2008 Beijing Olympics.
Duke coach Mike Krzyzewski, who guided James to gold in Beijing and London and called him the leader of this year's Olympic effort, has reiterated he would not return to lead the national team.
Last week, in an ESPN interview, Krzyzewski called James, "the most unique player to ever play basketball." In an interview Sunday with the network, James called it high praise and spoke of his allegiance to Krzyzewski.
"I love Coach K," he said. "I love playing for him. I love talking to him on off-days and during practices. I've been blessed with me not having the ability to go to college, coming straight out of high school, to have a college coach and be able to play for him since '05. His words mean a lot to me and I'm very humbled by it."
James passed Charles Barkley and Michael Jordan for second place on the United States' all-time Olympic scoring list in leading the United States to an 8-0 finish in London. His 273 points now trail only the 280 of Robinson.
James was to be joined by Heat teammates Dwyane Wade and Chris Bosh in London, with both pulling out of the Games due to injuries exacerbated during the Heat's playoff run. Wade, who will be 34 by the 2016 Olympics, has said he does not see himself part of the national team going forward.
As for Sunday's event, James said it was a matter of giving back."I was no different than the Wheels for Education kids who are in danger of dropping out of school," he said.
Although James has received acrimonious receptions during the Heat's appearances in Cleveland since he left the Cavaliers as a free agent in the 2010 offseason, he maintains strong ties to his hometown, where he continues to spend offseasons.
While there was a mixed reception at Sunday's game, James wrote in a letter in Sunday's Akron Beacon-Journal:
"Here is the truth: Regardless of my physical talents, I would not be where I am today without the coaches, teachers, mentors and the entire community of Akron. They are the ones who ensured that I graduated from high school, stayed out of trouble and gave me the tools I needed to pursue my passion. . . .
"I also want to take this opportunity to tell the people of Akron how much I appreciate all the love and support they have given me this year. After the 2011 NBA Finals, I came home to Akron. Being surrounded by friends, family and the people of this city helped me prepare for the season, strengthened me to become a better athlete and grow into a better leader."