The Greatness of LeBron James Through the Lens of his Teammates
We have all been witness since the 2003 NBA Draft.
Years leading up to the day where LeBron James was selected first overall by the Cleveland Cavaliers, everyone knew who he was. A superstar in high school, he was billed as the heir to Michael Jordan’s throne, Kobe Bryant’s successor. And then, he broke on the scene.
The powder toss. The charisma. Wearing the number-23. Becoming known simply as “The King”.
This was about to be his league for a very long time and 15-years later, he remains the best basketball player in the world today. At 33-years of age, he is still playing at the highest level of basketball imaginable and along the way, he continues to not only amaze millions of NBA fans, but his very own teammates too.
“Just the things that he does on a night in and night out basis is amazing”, exclaims George Hill who was acquired by the Cleveland Cavaliers at the NBA’s trade deadline. “He takes care of his body, the way he performs night in and night out – the amount of games he’s played every year, including the ones in the summer and then come back and do the same things over and over just shows that he is a superhuman.”
Like Hill, Jose Calderon voices the same sentiments.
“He’s always there, he works out his body,” says the Spaniard. “He gets better everyday and tries to do the right things…It’s really how he carries himself, takes care of his body, looks out of his teammates. It’s everything and he is a great person as well and that is bigger than basketball.”
For James, this has become routine – consistently being the best on and off the floor.
In the NBA, teams now build their rosters only to have a chance to beat James in the playoffs. Coaches have lost their jobs for not being able to take LeBron down, teams have been reshuffled, star players have gone on to form super teams – this entire league belongs to King James and he has held it hostage for a decade.
These playoffs, James has seemingly taken his game to the next level. With his supporting cast nearly invisible in the Cavalier’s first round matchup against the Indiana Pacers, James put his squad on his back and willed them to a Conference Semifinals berth. Now, he is imposing his will on the number-one seed in the East – the Toronto Raptors – and there is really no telling when his greatness will come to an end. There is no end in sight.
Cavaliers forward Jeff Green believes that the real work for James begins off the court, when the bright lights and cameras are not locked on The King.
“Of course, he is a great player,” explains the veteran Green. “I admire what he does and he’s on our team, but I also get to see behind the scenes of what he does. Being able to see what he has to do to do what he does on the court. Putting in the time and effort to recover. I see both, the inside and outside of what he does, it’s amazing to watch, but I also know the process, the time, and effort that it takes making sure his body is right.”
While a hard-worker off the floor, James is also genuine, kind, and simply put consummate professional and a great teammate.
“The thing that makes him so different, you can tell by all of us that wearing suits here,” says Hill. “That’s the first thing, how caring he is. Us coming here for the first time and him making us feel welcomed. Inviting us here, taking us out to dinner, getting us together, sharing suits with us, which he spent out of his own pocket to make us look good on game day on these trips. One of the most genuine teammates that I’ve had. Always making sure that his teammates are doing well. Always asking how the family is doing, how the kids are doing. Things like that because he genuinely cares about you as a person and a teammate.”
To Green, the way James carries himself off the court is truly inspiring.
“Great human to be around, very generous to his teammates and everybody,” voices the swingman. “No matter what the cause, he is always there for us. You don’t expect that from a guy of his calibre, but he is who he is and that is what makes him great on and off the court.”
The truth is, we may not just be watching the greatest of all time, but one of the most genuine athletes in the history of sports.
“Just the sacrifice,” Says teammate Kendrick Perkins. “The one thing to say about LeBron is the sacrifice. The way he keeps going about it, that impresses me more so than anything. The sacrifice and the dedication that he puts into the game.”
We are all witnesses!