CLEVELAND (AP) — LeBron James isn't ready to let his two sons strap on shoulder pads and a helmet just yet.
The NBA superstar doesn't want his boys, 10-year-old LeBron Jr. and 7-year-old Bryce, to play organized football because of safety concerns. He hasn't ruled them out playing the sport in the future, but for now he's insisting they stay off the field.
"We don't want them to play in our household right now until they understand how physical and how body demanding the game is," James said following practice on Thursday. "Then they can have their choice in high school, we'll talk over it. But right now there's no need for it. There's enough sports they can play. They play basketball, they play soccer, they play everything else but football and hockey."
James told ESPN.com (http://es.pn/11jvDtB) last week while the Cavaliers were in Denver that that he didn't want his sons playing football because of the sport's dangers. He's made similar comments in the past to the Associated Press.
"It's a safety thing," he said Thursday. "As a parent you protect your kids as much as possible. I don't think I'm the only one that's not allowing his kids to play football, it's just that I'm LeBron James and it gets put in the headlines for no reason."
James often refers to himself as a football player when talking about making physical plays. He's also a big football fan, and closely follows the Dallas Cowboys, Browns and Ohio State.
The 6-foot-8 James was an All-Ohio wide receiver at Akron's St. Vincent-St. Mary High School. This summer, he brought his boys to the Browns' training camp, where they played catch on a side field as the team worked out.
Before he concentrated on basketball, James said football provided a possible avenue for him to escape the inner city.
"I needed a way out," he said. "My kids don't need a way out. They're all right. I needed a way out when I was a kid. I tried to do whatever it took to get out. That's my excuse."
James also addressed the NBA's ruling that stripped him of a triple-double earlier this week.
On Monday, James scored 32 points with 12 rebounds and 10 assists in Cleveland's 118-111 win over the New Orleans Pelicans. However, the following day the league said it reviewed the game tape and took a rebound and assist from James, denying him his 38th career triple-double.
"I had two reactions," James said. "My first reaction was it didn't matter, we won. And who is the guy who actually is checking every stat? That was my second reaction."
James noted it was the second time he's lost a triple-double. The first was in 2009, when his 52-point, 11-assist, 10-rebound performance at Madison Square Garden was later downgraded by one rebound.
"I don't know if it's a Cleveland thing or a LeBron thing," he said.