LeBron James: King or clown?
Now, before you LeBron lovers break out the pitchforks and torches, hear me out.
It was a cold night in October 2006 when my mom drove three hours west to take me and my three friends to see “King James” in Rochester, N.Y.
LeBron was entering his fourth year in the league with the Cleveland Cavaliers and about to play, or so we thought, in an exhibition match up against the Toronto Raptors just a few weeks prior to the season.
My friends and I all donned our No. 23 James jerseys, finally getting our chance to see the one and only in person, our idol. The 21-year-old James’ early-career accolades garnered excitement – he was the next big thing.
Our tickets, about $50 face value, were amazing seats twelve rows up from the floor, and as we entered the stadium we noticed we weren’t the only ones with Cavs jerseys on, everyone had them.
All eyes were on LeBron during warm-ups and then the game started, and with James starting the contest off on the bench, the waiting started. And then more waiting . . . still waiting.
The fourth quarter rolls around and fans are becoming restless. With about five minutes left in the game, the demanding “We want LeBron!” cheers rang throughout the arena.
James rose off the bench to a roar, taking off the warm-up suit he had been wearing all game and began stretching. He walked over to the check in table at center court and I realized that all of our waiting was about to payoff, even if we only got to see him play for a few minutes.
And then with a smile and a seemingly disarming wave to the crowd, LeBron got up before checking into the game, walked back to the bench and sat down. The ensuing boo’s would have made the Apollo crumble.
This was the first NBA game held at The Blue Cross Arena since 1981, and the heavily promoted James hype left much to be desired.
While the final buzzer sounded the end of the game, my idolization of “King James” faded with it.
“I can’t worry about if guys are looking forward to seeing me play or anything like that,” James told National Post reporters after the game, showing he didn’t really care about his fans.
Matt Bryant is a junior journalism major from Utica, NY. He can be reached at firstname.lastname@example.org.