Is LeBron James the Next Micheal Jordan? High School Phenom Could Be the Answer to One of the NBA's Biggest Questions

Ebony, June 2003 | Go to article overview

Is LeBron James the Next Micheal Jordan? High School Phenom Could Be the Answer to One of the NBA's Biggest Questions


IT has become a part of basketball's annual ritual, the persistent question of who's going to be "the next Michael Jordan." With all due respect to Shaq, Kobe, Tim Duncan, Tracy McGrady and Kevin Garnett, spectators agree that no one yet has been able to impact the game--on and off the court--the way Jordan has.

But with Jordan retiring for the third--and he says final time--if all of the hype and expectations are valid, the answer to that often-asked question could come in the form of a 6-foot-8, 240-pound, 18-year-old high schooler whose spectacular play has prompted onlookers to refer to him as "King James."

LeBron James, who has been called "the best high school player ever," is a creative dunker with the explosiveness of Jordan and the passing ability of Magic Johnson. Not since Lew Alcindor (Kareem Abdul-Jabbar) was a high schooler in the '60s has a high school sensation gotten so much exposure and generated so much excitement. He is what sports experts call "a legitimate showstopper" who has, during his tenure at St. Vincent-St. Mary High School in Akron, Ohio, exhibited the kind of fan-pleasing ability that will likely make him the NBA's No. 1 draft pick on June 26.

James, who has a 32-point scoring average and 3.75 grade-point average, is a cordial, sometimes engaging youngster who is characterized by his unselfishness on the court that's mixed with a bit of flamboyance. And it's those credentials that elevated him to the level where he was the focus of what was called the "Fantastic Scholastic LeBron James Tour," an 8,500-mile, cross-country road schedule that included stops in Los Angeles, Philadelphia, Pittsburgh, Dayton and Greensboro, N.C.

But with so much attention devoted to James, it has created the sometimes circus-like environment that surrounds him. Even so, he has been able to handle it with the maturity of one who is much older than his 18 years. …

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