Monster dunks, majestic drive-ins, inch-perfect passes, authoritative rejections are adjectives we hear on a daily basis when one man takes to the basketball court and he goes by the name of LeBron Raymone James.
When we speak of basketball greats over the years the names that often pop up are Michael Jordan, Magic Johnson, Larry Bird, Kobe Bryant among others. Since his debut in 2003 LeBron he has gone on to become the face of the NBA and staked his claim to join this elite group of players.
Over the last 13 years “King James”, as he is popularly known, has dominated the court against oppositions from the likes of the legendary Jordan to the current MVP Stephen Curry. His abilities on the court reflect in the countless records he holds. LeBron is practically unstoppable in the open court.
It should not come as too much of a surprise, though, as LeBron was the youngest to reach every thousand-point milestone, from 1,000 through to his current record of 20,000 in addition to his two rings with the Miami Heat and his 4 MVP awards. But these are things which we have heard of or read. In light of his recent achievement of winning the NBA Finals with Cleveland Cavaliers and thus realizing a lifelong dream, we look at some of the lesser known facts about this great man.
#1 High school superstar
It’s often been discussed by pundits how LeBron was good enough to enter the NBA draft after his first year of high school. But the rules of the NBA dictated all drafted players must be at least 19 years old during the calendar year of the draft and be "one year out of high school" in addition to the age requirement.
After two outstanding seasons at St. Vincent-St Mary, it was evident that he was the best player in the country at the high school level and probably better most college ball players in the country as well. In his freshman year, James averaged 21 points and 6 rebounds. Further evidence that he is Mr. Basketball as he was later called, came in his second when he was averaging 25.2 points and 7.2 rebounds.
After his third year of high school, LeBron petitioned the NBA to allow him to enter the draft, but they would not allow a child that was only 16 years old to sign a professional contract and play for the league. LeBron had to play a full year more and graduate high school before he could play in the NBA.
He did so and after finishing his senior year of high school, he was selected as the first pick of the draft by the Cleveland Cavaliers.
#2 Talented at multiple sports
We have always known LeBron to be a fantastic athlete with almost superhuman physical abilities. What we do not know is in addition to being a star on his high school basketball team, he was an amazing talent on the football field as well.
Playing as a wide receiver for his high school team LeBron in all probability would have received a scholarship to a Division 1 school. Brought up in Ohio, A state which has always been associated with the most talented players when it comes to football recruitment with the fact that in his junior year, he was already an All-State receiver shows how talented he was.
However, he chose to sit out his senior year after breaking a finger. He surely realized that playing football could lead to an injury that could jeopardize his basketball career.
Since he was not able to leave school and sign with an NBA team after his junior year, he decided to leave football and the risk of injury behind and focus on basketball for his fourth year of high school, which would be his final year playing as an amateur.
#3 LeBron’s connection with the English Premier League
Not many people know that LeBron purchased stakes in the English Premier League Club Liverpool FC in 2011. The most successful club in English football,James became an investor in the team through a marketing arrangement with the Fenway Sports Group, which also owns half of NASCAR’s Roush Fenway Racing and all of the Boston Red Sox.
And it has been a shrewd investment indeed.. Jersey sales alone account for millions in the annual turnover. Liverpool FC recently signed an agreement with New Balance Sports that guarantees that the club in excess of $300 million over the next six years even if they don’t qualify for the Champions League.
This translates to millions for the team, but also millions for LeBron’s pocket as well, showing that the deal he has made with FSG might end up being more lucrative than all of these sponsorships and other investments. These include contracts with several of the wealthiest corporations in the world, such as Audemars Piguet, Coca-Cola, Dunkin’ Brands, McDonald’s, Nike, State Farm, and Samsung. His first contract with Nike earned him 90 million dollars. He was only 19 years old at the time and fresh out of high school.
#4 Drug addiction as a teenager
In one of his books, LeBron admitted that he smoked a lot of cannabis as a teenager in high school, trying to relieve stress from all the things that were happening around him
His revelation came at a time not many athletes admitted to substance use.
It is difficult for a normal person to understand the pressure James was facing at that age.
People were already talking about him as the heir to Michael Jordan when he wasn’t old enough to hold a driver’s license.
In addition to the pressure to perform his personal life did him no favors. Born to a teenage Single mother and having seen his surrogate father thrown in jail for cocaine trafficking LeBron never experienced growing up in a regular family setup.
And all the while, one injury or accident growing up could have ruined all of his dreams.
#5 He’s ambidextrous!
Over the years, we have seen some players with massive potential not achieve the heights they were expected to because they were poor on their weaker side. What made Lebron great is his ability to play with either hand. Although he writes and eats with his left hand, when it comes to shooting, he prefers his right. Early in his career on the court people used to push him to his (on court) weaker left which gave him problems.
LeBron was still more than capable of going left or right and finishing at the ring or with a jump shot, his ambidexterity did not give him the edge that it gave to players like Steve Nash and Larry Bird, who were near impossible to guard as they had no favored side.
But after years of hard work and relentless practice now one can say with conviction that LeBron James does not have a weaker side. In fact, he has now got the ability to decide which hand to shoot with mid-air much like his idol the great Michael Jordan.
The NBA slogan reads “Where amazing happens” and there could be no one better to define it than LeBron James. Call him arrogant, dominant, or any of the 'n' adjectives that you can think of.The fact is over the duration of the 48 minutes on the court he never ceases to amaze us. Considering he’s 31 now and looks fit as an ox, we can look forward to seeing a lot more of the trademark LeBron in the coming years.