Arnold Schwarzenegger discusses Wilt, LeBron, Kawhi and sports fandom in Los Angeles

Arnold Schwarzenegger has met countless celebrities in his never-out-of-the-spotlight adulthood. From his body-building days to movie-making days to time spent as Governor of California, his life hasn’t exactly been boring or predictable. As a basketball fan, he’s also befriended Wilt Chamberlain and LeBron James and recently become friendly with two-time NBA Finals MVP Kawhi Leonard.

With his new movie, “Terminator: Dark Fate,” arriving in U.S. movie theatres in November, it’s natural that Arnold is making the promotional rounds.

What’s unique this time around, though, is the arrival of Kawhi Leonard and Paul George, new stars on the revamped Los Angeles Clippers, as part of the promotional machinations. Schwarzenegger stars with them in a 60-second commercial that appears on YouTube.

And with his global fame and social media reach (4.4 million Twitter followers, for instance), the commercial should get massive exposure beyond what it’s already received — 3 million view, as of earlier this week, according to published reports.

Catching up with the Terminator in recent days, the Los Angeles Times’ Arash Markazi penned a column that highlights Schwarzenegger’s connections to basketball in the City of Angels.

Meeting Wilt Chamberlain

It began in 1968, when Schwarzenegger moved to L.A. That also happened to be the summer that Chamberlain was traded to the Lakers, Markazi noted.

“I was working out at the original Muscle Beach in Santa Monica and there was Wilt Chamberlain playing volleyball,” Schwarzenegger said, according to the column. “He was a fantastic volleyball player, but that’s also where he would go to pick up his girls. He was a funny guy and we had a great relationship.

“I would go watch him play when he was on the Lakers and we would work out together at Gold’s Gym. He was the only basketball player in those days I saw working out with weights. He did triceps extensions with 180 pounds, which blew us all away. He was so strong. Our relationship extended into making ‘Conan the Destroyer,’ where we worked out every day on set.”

Befriending LeBron James

So how did Arnold Schwarzenegger meet LeBron James? And how did they become good pals?

Here’s what he told Markazi: ““I have been friends with LeBron for many, many years with his involvement in after-school programs. He was always very interested in helping kids. When he was playing in Miami, we had an event in Florida and I asked if he could help with this after-school program and he came and he got involved in donating his money and his time. He was always very generous and we became good friends. When LeBron wanted to start his own supplement line, he and I started schmoozing about it and he let me try it and it was great, so I told him we should market this together and we did.”

Thoughts on the Clippers

Like many sports fans, Schwarzenegger is intrigued by the competitive intensity of the Lakers-Clippers rivalry after both teams famously upgraded their rosters in the offseason.

“They’ve created their own little special thing and that’s really important for the identity of the Clippers,” Schwarzenegger told Markazi. “LeBron has his own thing with the Lakers and I wish him well. The focus is on the personalities this season. With Kawhi and Paul, the Clippers have two of the best personalities, and they’re fun to watch. I’m going to tune in to watch to see if they can pull it off this season.”

As for Leonard’s acting talents, the Terminator summed it up this way, according to Markazi: “Kawhi is great. He’s very funny and very natural on camera.”