Friday , Nov , 07 , 2003 C.Y. Ellis

Cleveland’s New King

Since a junior in high school, few basketball players have garnered as much interest, speculation, and talk as Lebron James.

The 18-year-old phenom dominated the high school ranks winning three state titles while at St. Vincent- St. Mary’s high school in Akron, Ohio. Never had such a player ever come along, even Michael Jordan never got this kind of attention and media coverage at such a young age. Lebron handled it all with class and never got to full of himself or let the hype get to his head, even after all the distractions (the Hummer, and Jersey-gate) James was able to focus on basketball and overcome the media scrutiny.

Cleveland's New King

Then in May during the NBA Playoffs, the NBA lottery took place, in which all NBA fans knew who would be the #1 pick it was just a matter of who would get the rights to draft James. Then the down trodden and 17-win Cavaliers, James’ hometown team won the lottery, and immediately the once football and baseball dominated city had a new king. As soon as it was announced the Cavaliers become the biggest ticket in town, a team that for the past couple seasons had trouble getting anyone into Gund Arena, unless the Lakers or Iverson were in town, had stolen all the front pages from the Browns and their season.

With Lebron aboard the Cavs opened this season with a new sense of hope and optimism not associated with the Cavaliers in a decade, not since Mark Price, Larry Nance, and Brad Daugherty were being bounced out by Jordan and his Bulls. But this time it’s different; the Cavs have Jordan on their side. The comparisons between Jordan and Lebron are inescapable, with the highflying dunks, game-winning jumpers, ability to lead their team to victory, and that media savvy that for an 18-year-old is unheard of. James has captured the minds of sports fans everywhere, not just in Cleveland, he’s the hottest topic in all NBA circles, his jerseys are flying off store shelves, and the national media has already covered more Cavs games then they have in the past 5 years combined. Lebron has turned this once moribund team into one of the most watched teams for the 2003-04 season.

Unfortunately for the Cavaliers they are not off to the kind of start associated with great teams, at 0-4 the Cavs are losing just like they did last year with poor defense and sporadic offence. James was spectacular in his first two game averaging over 20 points, 7 rebounds, and 7 assists, but in the last two he hasn’t gotten into double figures in scoring or shot well. The fans are showing very little patience booing as they left early in the home opening loss against the Denver Nuggets and superb young talent Carmelo Anthony who outscored James 14-7. Of course four games in there are plenty left to turn things around, I’m sure Lebron will have more games like he did to start the year then the recent few, but realistically this Cavs team is not ready or even close to being a serious contender. Even though playing in a weak Eastern conference, Cleveland is very young and is also trying to break in a new coach (Paul Silas) not exactly a good combination for a playoff caliber team.

In the end only time will tell if Lebron can become the next high school sensation like Kobe, McGrady, and Garnett, but the one uniting factor between them all was their slow rookie starts, though none of those three got the chances Lebron has neither we’re they under the amount of scrutiny and attention that James is. Lebron will dazzle and amaze us but until the Cavs front office start to build the team around James and not just try to fit him with an established roster, we’ll only be able to enjoy his talents for 82 games.

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