James Gandolfini Once Filmed Plea to Free Agent LeBron James as Tony Soprano

LeBron James came close to getting an interesting offer from Tony Soprano. Edie Falco recently appeared on Chuck D's podcast Shattered: Hope, Heartbreak and the New York Knicks and talked about how the Knicks recruited her and James Gandolfini to do a short film about getting James to play for the team. It was shot in 2010, and it was a time where James was the hottest free agent in NBA history. The film was never released as James, who started his career with the Cleveland Cavaliers, signed with the Miami Heat.

“I couldn’t believe that it didn’t work,” Falco said as reported by Deadline. “Not so much because of The Sopranos. I just thought, it’s New York. How does anyone say no to New York, for God’s sake? But he did!” The film was directed by Jonathan Hock and had a number of guest stars, including Donald Trump, Robert De Niro and Spike Lee who's a Knicks superfan. The film was shot three years after The Sopranos ended and three years before Gandolfini died in June 2013.

“I do remember doing it and what is absolutely amazing to me is I didn’t know who LeBron James was,” Falco said. “We got those requests all the time back then and Jim Gandolfini, he did nothing. And somehow, he agreed to this thing, which I was shocked by. I thought it was a prank when someone said Jim’s going to do it.”

The film was shot in Gandolfini's apartment in New York. The plot was Tony Soprano did not die at the diner, as was hinted at in the series finale of The Sopranos. Instead, Tony was in the witness protection program. “There he was, dressed as Tony … he must have been a bigger basketball fan than I realized,” Falco said.

Donnie Walsh, former Knicks president, also talked about how the team missed out on signing James. "[James] Dolan asked Isiah [Thomas] to go up and see if he could do something," Walsh said on the podcast, adding that Dolan wanted Thomas to fly from Florida to Ohio for the Knicks' final pitch. "I thought LeBron had already had made up his mind. I didn't say that, but I kind of thought that way. And then Isaiah, I think, tried to do it, but he found out the same thing." James won two NBA titles with the Heat before heading back to the Cavaliers. He won another title in Cleveland and is now with the Los Angeles Lakers. James led the Lakers to their 17th championship in October.