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Before LeBron James had completed his sophomore year of high school, basketball scouts were discussing his chances of playing for the National Basketball Association NBA. Before playing his first regulation game for the NBA, James had signed deals with Nike and other corporations for multimillion-dollar product endorsements. Before he completed his rookie season in the NBA, sportswriters were discussing his chances of joining the most elite players in history in the Basketball Hall of Fame.
LeBron James, by age eighteen, knew a thing or two about dealing with pressure. Sportswriters and his coaches agreed that James has shown uncommon maturity for a player his age, handling his newfound fame and the extraordinary expectations of others with grace.
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During , prior to his graduation from high school, James declared himself eligible for the NBA draft, the annual process by which professional basketball teams select new players to join them for the upcoming season.
The Cleveland Cavaliers, one of the worst teams in the NBA, had the privilege of the number-one draft pick. The Cavs chose James, with the obvious expectation that this eighteen-year-old would lead the team to greatness. A team player Born in Akron, Ohio, in , James is the only child of Gloria James, who gave birth to him when she was just sixteen years old. Gloria struggled to provide for James during his childhood. When James was about five years old, he and his mother moved seven times in a year.
For a couple of years during elementary school, James lived with a foster family. Regardless of any troubles they may have had, however, James and his mother have a close and supportive relationship.
I talked about getting his shots in the flow of the game. James absorbed every word his coach said and immediately changed his playing style. Another Rising Young Star: Carmelo Anthony For the draft, the hype surrounding LeBron James nearly eclipsed another young basketball phenomenon: The number-three draft pick with just one year of college basketball under his belt, Anthony would have attracted even more attention than he did, had he not been drafted at the same time as James.
Expectations for Anthony, like those for James, were extremely high: Anthony performed impressively during his rookie season, racking up an average of 21 points, 6. Perhaps the most significant statistic for his team: Anthony grew up in the rough inner city of Baltimore, Maryland.
His father died when he was two years old, and his mother, Mary Anthony, raised Carmelo and his three older siblings by herself. She pushed her son to stay focused and disciplined where basketball was concerned, and she pushed him to attend college before going professional. To fulfill his desire to play for Syracuse, Anthony had to leave his Baltimore high school to attend the prestigious Oak Hill Academy, a Baptist boarding school in Virginia.
He studied hard to bring his grades up so he could get admitted to Syracuse, and he practiced basketball as often as possible. He helped the Oak Hill team to a number-three national ranking in , and he earned the grades necessary to take him to Syracuse. Anthony has been described as an unusually mature player who has maintained his down-to-earth style even in the midst of the money, celebrity, and pressure that have come his way.
Among the first things he spent his money on after being drafted by the Nuggets were a home for his mother in Baltimore and a youth center there to replace one that was closed down by the police when he was growing up. At the time, James played basketball with his best friends, including Dru Joyce III, the son of his summer-league coach, and Sian Cotton, the son of another summer-league coach, Lee Cotton. Those coaches, both of whom stressed the values of good sportsmanship and being a team player, helped James form the basis of his playing style.
James and his pals Joyce III and Cotton, along with Willie McGee, played together every chance they could as kids, and they vowed to stay together all through high school. Mary High School, a private school known for its basketball program.
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His high school coaches asserted that James could have been a player who averaged fifty to sixty points per game. Instead, his average was closer to thirty points a game, but he helped his entire team play better basketball. Mary team won the Division III state championship three of the four years that James attended the school, and in , USA Today named the team number one in the country.
James was named High School Boys Basketball Player of the Year by Parade magazine after both his junior year and his senior year; in forty-seven years of giving out this award, Parade has never chosen the same player two years in a row.
With all that attention came some mild controversy: The abundant attention he had received for his playing, many observers suggested, had made James—nicknamed "King James"—feel that he was entitled to the financial benefits of a seasoned professional. On the court, however, all agreed that James kept his head and continued to play like the member of a team rather than a basketball superstar. Eager to test his skills at the next level, James considered declaring for the draft as a junior, trying to get an exception to the rule that would have barred him from the draft before his graduation year.
He decided instead to complete high school, announcing during his senior year that he would declare himself eligible for the NBA draft. Supporters argue that if the player possesses the skills, he should be allowed to earn a living playing his sport. Critics suggest that most high school kids would benefit more from going to college first, using those years to improve their playing, acquire an education, and become more mature.
Ignoring the debate and following his own instincts, James opted to skip college and head for the NBA. Coming off a terrible season, tying for the worst record in the NBA, the Cleveland Cavaliers had a chance to reshape their future in June of They chose James, pinning their hopes on the eighteen-year-old player to turn their fortunes around.
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At six-foot-eight and pounds, James certainly looked the part of an NBA player. But many wondered if he could live up to the hype surrounding him and compete in the far more competitive arena of professional basketball.
When James made his official NBA debut in the fall of in a game against the Sacramento Kings, he answered the concerns of many doubters. The Cavaliers lost the game, but James played better than most rookies could hope for in a debut game—and better than any rookie straight out of high school—with twenty-five points, nine assists, six rebounds, and four steals.
While he occasionally showed his inexperience and youth, and while he did not live up to the most outrageous expectations that he would play like Michael Jordan right out of high school, James did perform extremely well in his rookie season.
He ended the —04 season with an average of He ranked among the top fifteen players in the league in a number of categories, including points per game, total points, assists, and steals.
In April of , James was named the Rookie of the Year for the —04 season. He just has it. He has also agreed to promote Coca-Cola products, including Sprite and Powerade, and Bubblicious bubblegum. Predicting the amount of money James will generate for the Cavaliers, for Nike, and even for other NBA teams, Forbes magazine suggests that those investing in James will be repaid handsomely. During his rookie season, attendance for Cavs home games increased by fifty percent from the prior season.
As for his corporate sponsors, Nike released the first shoe endorsed by James, the Air Zoom Generation, in December of Bob Williams, the CEO of a company that matches athletes with corporations for endorsement deals, described to Sports Illustrated in the hurdles James will encounter in his first few years in the NBA: He will make a lot of money and live happily ever after.
But no one has ever had more expectations put on him than this young man right now. The Rise of a Star. Gray and Company, Zayy Jun 14, 8: He is very talented when it comes to the ball tip.
Seeing that I play my self I am reading his book and its amazing to see that out of all the obstacle that was placed before him he overcame them and did what he had to do. Goodluck next year with the ring though Comment about this article, ask questions, or add new information about this topic: