NBA star Larry Nance Jr believes that Zlatan Ibrahimovic is a bigger star in world sport than basketball legend LeBron James.
Sport in Los Angeles has been changed in recent years with two NFL sides moving to the city, as well as LeBron James and football superstar Zlatan Ibrahimovic in 2018. Ibrahimovic left Manchester United to sign for LA Galaxy, but Nance believes the Puskas Award winner will never match James’ popularity in the States despite his incredible start to life in Major League Soccer.
“In America, it’s LeBron and for the world, it’s Zlatan,” Nance told Goal . “Zlatan’s proven that he’s back from his injury. But he’s proven that he’s head and shoulders above the competition in that league.”
Nance also believes that Cristiano Ronaldo’s transfer from Real Madrid to Juventus was a much more shocking deal than LeBron James’ decision to trade the Cleveland Cavaliers for the LA Lakers.
Four-time NBA Most Valuable Player James decided to opt out of his Cavs contract in the summer, moving to Los Angeles despite making back-to-back NBA Finals appearances with Cleveland. Many basketball fans felt that the move was one of self-interest rather than out of a desire to win titles, which was a criticism aimed at Ronaldo after his surprise switch to Juventus.
On the back of three successive Champions League trophies, Ronaldo decided to call an end to his time in Madrid, with James’ former team-mate Nance surprised by the move, claiming it to be a more shocking transfer than basketball’s biggest summer trade.
“Each one was huge in its own regard, but I think Ronaldo going to Juventus was probably bigger,” Nance claimed. “I feel that was more of a shock than LeBron going to the Lakers.”
James moved to the Lakers as a free agent, but when Nance joined Cleveland back in February, three other players as well as a draft pick were part of the deal with the Lakers.
A Chelsea supporter, Nance was impressed with how the Blues were able to get Mateo Kovacic on loan as part of the deal that saw Thibaut Courtois join Real Madrid. This is something he believes that could happen on a more regular basis in football, just like it’s a regular occurrence in basketball and other U.S. sports.
“I think it could happen more often,” Nance claimed. “I think it would be a fairer way for clubs to compete and exchange players as opposed to throwing money at each other.”
The 25-year-old basketball star also believes that while Ronaldo’s transfer was a shock to the football world, he does not place the European Championship winner as the best player in the game. For him, Ronaldo’s great rival Lionel Messi is number one.
“Messi,” Nance exclaimed. “Ronaldo to me is a machine. He’s like a soccer robot. Everything is almost too perfect, whereas Messi has his flaws, but he’s so skilled he makes up for them. I almost think that brings a humanness to Messi compared to Ronaldo.”
Tickets for the NBA London Game 2019 will go on general sale Friday, Oct. 19 at 9 a.m. BST at www.axs.com/nbalondon . Fans can register their details at NBA.com/London to gain early access to a limited number of tickets via a presale to be held on Wednesday, Oct. 17 at 9 a.m. BST.