On October 29, 2003, a phenomenon named LeBron James made his debut in the biggest basketball league in the world. An obviously milestone in the King’s career, but also in the history of the NBA. Faced with the huge hype surrounding him, BronBron immediately lived up to expectations on the Sacramento floor. Pressure ? It’s for others.
LeBron James’ performance that night, we all know it. 25 points, 6 rebounds, 9 assists, 4 steals in 42 minutes, 12/20 shooting. We also know his best actions from his first game. His one-handed dunk on the counter-attack, his caviar for Ricky Davis and Co, his fadeaway on Brad Miller’s face … in short, the kid of only 18 years old wasted no time in proving that he was – but like really – “the Chosen One”. What is less well known, however, is the ad made a month earlier for its equipment manufacturer Nike, which had just signed LeBron with an XXL contract of $ 90 million over seven years. It was James’ first ad with the comma, the first in a long series. The theme ? The pressure surrounding the kid for his NBA debut. How could it be otherwise for the one who was baptized “The Chosen One” by the famous sports magazine US Sports Illustrated in February 2002? Shot on the stage of his first exploits, at the Arco Arena in Sacramento, this commercial features LeBron in his upcoming game against the Sacramento Kings. The crowd is hostile, stars like Damon Wayans and George Gervin are seated in the front row, Jerry Reynolds and Grant Napear are commenting, and LeBron… freeze, in front of everyone. Literally. Ball in hand, opposed to Mike Bibby, the “Chosen One” becomes the “Frozen One” to quote James’ number one hater, Skip Bayless. As if the enormous pressure surrounding the Akron phenomenon finally got the better of him …
… except that in the end, the commercial ends with a most beautiful “Haha”, as if the pressure surrounding the guy ultimately can’t touch him. Bingo! A month later, October 29, 2003 on the floor of the Kings, LeBron James released a first masterclass. If the young King inevitably had a few butterflies in his stomach before entering the floor of the Arco Arena, he immediately showed that he had the shoulders to resist this pressure, to close the mouths of critics and skeptics. , and meet the high expectations concerning him. Today, when we look at the entire career of the guy, there is no doubt that he managed to justify the huge hype that surrounded him from his high school years, even if it also happened to him to crack at times, like during those damn 2011 NBA Finals against the Mavericks where he froze IRL. A terrible black spot in the King’s career that looks a lot like this commercial, but a black spot which he will then surpass by winning four championship rings and four Final MVP titles.
Few players have come to the NBA with more expectations than LeBron James. And at only 18 years old, we know one who was able to answer it by putting out a magnificent performance in the spotlight and in front of more than 17,000 fans, including 300 media outlets ready to analyze his every move.
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