Archive for Saturday, November 1, 2003

James is for real — just ask Hall of Famer West

November 1, 2003


— The reign is 83 minutes old, and already it's "Long live King James!"

This kid is good, very good.

The soaring dunks, the hanging bank shots, the slick crosscourt passes, the rebounding, and most of all, the incredible court awareness. It was all on display in LeBron James' impressive first two games in the NBA.

"I know how to play the game of basketball," he said after the Cleveland Cavaliers worked out Friday. "That's not being conceited. I just know what I can do and what I can't do."

No argument there.

This 18-year-old strolled into the NBA as if it was his rightful inheritance. No intimidation, no awe-struck gazes at his childhood heroes. Just some terrific basketball.

"He's going to be a great player," Hall of Famer Jerry West said. "I don't know why anybody would even question that. He's wise beyond his years. He's got special tools. He'll have nights when he won't shoot well, but his total game makes him special."

Before his NBA debut against Sacramento, James had dinner with Moses Malone, who long ago became the first big-time high school player to go directly to the pros. Malone offered advice.

"The first-game jitters, that's the main thing he was concerned about," James said, "how you handle it, by staying focused and just competing. Don't back down from anybody. I've been hearing that a lot, but when you hear it from one of the greats, it makes it sound even better."

The NBA sorely needed someone to capture the public's imagination after the departure of Michael Jordan, James' boyhood idol. James intends to fill that void.

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