Joe Matela Mullins Green/1 April 13, 2012 Rough Draft They inbound the ball, he takes it past mid-court with only 2 seconds left; he dribbles to the three-point line and somehow gets the shot off. It goes in! They win the hard-fought game by nailing the buzzer-beater; this is just one of the 17 game-winning shots that LeBron James has made in his short, eight-year career to give his team the lead in the final seconds of the game. LeBron James is just one of the many athletes that play the exciting game of American Basketball, a fast-paced sport that is extremely entertaining and viewed by an abundance of people through-out the globe.
There have been, there are, and there will be many individuals who play the game of basketball very well; however, none will measure up against LeBron James. LeBron has been a great basketball player since the very beginning, perhaps the greatest. Some say that James was being scouted since he was in the sixth-grade. LeBron James, overcoming extreme poverty in his early childhood, has always been viewed as one of the greatest basketball players since the very start of his career, leading his high school and two professional teams to the national championship multiple times.
Basketball is a fast-paced sport in which there are two teams trying to outscore each other by throwing the basketball into the other teams hoop more times than their opponent, (Thompson 143). Basketball has developed drastically since it was invented over a century ago by a middle-school physical education teacher, (Safra 941). This sport originated in Springfield, Massachusetts in 1891 by a PE teacher named James Naismith, (Safra 941). The goal was simple; outscore your opponent by making more shots than them, while at the same time, preventing the other team from scoring, (Safra 942).
However, modern basketball consists mainly of enormous athletes performing flashy dunks, tough play in the post, and down-town shots for three points. Professional basketball consists of 4 twelve-minute quarters, whereas college consists of 2 twenty-minute halves. There are five people from each team on the court at once, therefore there are five positions. One of these five positions is called the, “Small Forward. ” The Small Forward is responsible for scoring points by cutting to the basket and using dribble penetration, and on defense seeks rebounds and steals.
There are few Small Forwards that preform at a high level of intensity every night; LeBron James is one of these elite few. LeBron James was, “born December 30th, 1984,” (“LeBron James” 1), in Akron, Ohio, (“LeBron James: American Basketball player. ” Newsmakers 1). At the time, the population in Akron was around 225,000 people, (Bissinger 7). “His mother, Gloria, gave birth to James when she was just 16 years old and became his biggest fan,” (“LeBron James: American Basketball player”. Newsmakers 1). “He never knew his biological father, who was reputed to be a stellar street-basketball player,” (“LeBron James: American Basketball player. Newsmakers 1). The most stable male influence in his early life was his mom’s boyfriend, Eddie Jackson, who James sometimes refers to as his dad. However, in 2002, Eddie Jackson was sentenced to three years in prison for mail and mortgage fraud, (“LeBron James: American Basketball player. ” Newsmakers 1). James did not have an easy upbringing. His mother switched jobs and houses often. “By the time James was five years old, they had moved seven times,” (“LeBron James: American Basketball player. ” Newsmakers 1).
He missed large stretches of elementary school and spent 18 months living with a foster family, (“LeBron James: American Basketball player. ” Newsmakers 1). “James’ basketball coach at the time, Frankie Walker, offered to school LeBron and give him a nice home until his mother Gloria was able to afford to take care of him,” (“LeBron James: American Basketball player. ” Newsmakers 1). During these tough times, LeBron formed an immense admiration towards his mother. During an Interview, James said, “My mother is my everything. Always has been.
Always will be,” (“LeBron James: American”1). “Toward the end of elementary school, LeBron found a true stabilizing influence in his life: basketball,” (“LeBron James: American Basketball player. ” Newsmakers 1). He first started playing basketball when he was about nine years old with a team called the Hornets at the Summit Lake Community Center (Bissinger 17). In 8th grade, LeBron joined an Amateur Athletic Union team called the, “Shooting Stars,” coached by Dru Joyce, a graduate from Ohio University, (“LeBron James: American Basketball player. ” Newsmakers 1).
Also on the team was Coach Dru’s son, nicknamed, “Little Dru,” who would later become one of LeBron’s best friends (Bissinger 20). The Shooting Stars would continue on to win a handful of national tournament catching the attention of many recruiters. James’ and his team were later invited to a private Catholic school, St. Vincent- St. Mary high school in Akron, Ohio, (“LeBron James: American Basketball player. ” Newsmakers 1). Even Keith Dambrot put Coach Dru on the staff because of what he did with the, “Fab Four,” on the Shooting Stars, (Bissinger 72). LeBron made an instant impact as a high school player. “As a freshman, he led the St.
Vincent- St. Mary Fighting Irish to a 27-0 record and the Ohio state basketball championship,” (“LeBron James: American Basketball player. ” Newsmakers 1). Not only did he become the school’s star basketball player but he also played football for three years and maintained solid grades,” (“LeBron James: American 2). As a sophomore in football, he caught 42 passes for 840 yards and 11 touchdowns (Freedman 15). Such statistics ignite interest in college recruiters. In basketball, he was a team player, meaning, he spent as much time passing the ball to set someone else’s shot up as he did setting up his own shot.
LeBron James was by far the best player on the team; he knew it, and so did his team. “They understood I was the best player on the team if we needed to get a point, but I still needed them to get the ball to me. They were adamant that this was a team, ‘You can’t do this without us, and we can’t do this without you. ’” (Bissinger 206). By his junior year, James had caught the attention of basketball fans across the country, (“LeBron James: American” 2). “In 2001, during the summer leading up to his junior year, James was invited to attend informal workouts at, ‘Hoops the Gym,’ where Michael Jordan trained,” (Freedman 29).
Sports Illustrated put him on the cover of their magazine in 2002, making him the eighth high school basketball player to be on the cover in 48 years, (“LeBron James: American” 2). LeBron was also named, “High School Boys Basketball Player of the Year,” by Parade magazine after both his junior and senior year, (“LeBron James: American” 2). By the time he was a senior, his nickname was, “King James,” and they were making little LeBron James bobble-heads. “James considered declaring himself eligible for the draft as a junior, but he decided to finish high school and declared ligibility for the 2003 NBA draft,” (“LeBron James: American” 1). “St. Vincent- St. Mary’s basketball team won the Division III state championship three of the four years James attended the school: his freshman, sophomore, and senior year,” (Bissinger 120). During his high school career, he played in three total All-Star High School basketball games, (Freedman 55). Originally, the team with the worst record in the NBA got the first draft pick. When the NBA suspected teams of putting no effort into a nothing–to-lose season, they decided to create a lottery, (Freedman 54).
The teams that did not make it into the playoffs got put on a ping pong ball and were randomly selected, thus, choosing the order of the draft, (Freedman 54). “In the 2002-2003 season, the Cleveland Cavaliers went 17-65, tying the Denver Nuggets. They were arguably the worst team in the NBA,” (Freedman 53). So it was no surprise to anyone when LeBron James was the number one draft pick, being drafted by the Cleveland Cavaliers. “The Cavaliers viewed him as a savior to their franchise; the league greeted him as a marketing tool,” (“LeBron James: American Basketball player. Newsmakers 1). LeBron entered the league signing a 4-year contract for 12. 96 million dollars, (Freedman 67). In his first professional game, he scored 25 points, passed for 6 assists and gathered 6 rebounds against the Sacramento Kings, (Freedman 69). Needless to say, LeBron James made a major impact for his team in his rookie year. At the end of the season he was named, “Rookie of the Year in 2003,” (“LeBron James” 1). “Soon after his rookie season, James was issued an invitation to join the U. S. Olympic team for the games in Greece,” (Freedman 81).
His first six years in the league, James had already led the Cavaliers to the Finals and earned MVP honors twice while winning the MVP award in the All-Star Game twice as well, (“LeBron James: American Basketball player. ” Newsmakers 1). “He has appeared in 627 regular season games and started 626 of those games, averaging 27. 7 points, 7. 1 rebounds, 1. 72 steals and 40. 1 minutes, great statistics by most basketball experts’ standards,” (“LeBron’ James” 1). He has won the, “Eastern Conference Player of the Week,” title a league record 31-times (“LeBron James”1). He is, unarguably, a great overall player of the game basketball.