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Young stars share “Welcome to the NBA” moments from LeBron James

LeBron James & Jayson Tatum & Nico Mannion & Desmond Bane

Jayson Tatum, Desmond Bane, and Nico Mannion have one thing in common: they were all baptized by LeBron James in their rookie year.

Jayson Tatum, Desmond Bane, and Nico Mannion have one thing in common: they were all baptized by LeBron James in their rookie year. 

Young stars share “Welcome to the NBA” moments

Jayson Tatum

Jayson Tatum and James enjoyed some intense postseason battles in recent years. The Boston Celtics forward caught James sleeping on defense and served him a facial dunk in 2018. 

However, it turned out to be a revenge dunk of some sorts since LeBron gave Tatum his “Welcome to the NBA” moment in his rookie year in 2017. 

“I remember the first game I played in Cleveland, first time coming back. I set a screen on somebody and I slipped. Now I ain’t gonna say names, but somebody had the ball and they could’ve threw it right here for the layup.But he threw me a little lob for some hang time. So it took something 4 seconds to get there. As soon as I catch it, somebody (LeBron James) slaps it away.”

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Desmond Bane

Bane gained notoriety in the league after saying to LeBron that his footsteps ain’t scaring nobody. Pretty brave for a player who is still in his second year in the NBA.

Bane remembers how James baptized him when he first got in the league. What struck the Memphis Grizzlies winger was how strong the Lakers star was. 

“We play a healthy Lakers team and it’s like LeBron, AD, and all them. I’m picking up LeBron full-court and, it’s like the end of the quarter, and I’m trying to be pesky on the ball. He just put a forearm on me and I’m like, ‘Oh my god, this dude’s strong as sh*t.’ So that was kind of like my ‘Welcome to the league’ moment.”

Nico Mannion

Mannion knew James was strong, but LeBron had to make him feel it firsthand. In the Lakers vs. GSW game in 2021, The King gave the young guard a brick wall screen. It hit Mannion pretty hard but kudos to him as he didn’t try to sell the contact to the refs. 

Before the game, Nico Mannion offered high praise for James as he called guarding him a “cool moment.”

“(I just) try not to let the moment be too big. He is one of the best players ever, but you can’t be a fan when you’re on the court. It was definitely a cool moment. Being able to guard him on the floor is special for me.”

In fairness to LeBron, he wasn’t dirty, nor did he try to hurt these young stars for their “Welcome to the NBA” moment. Other veterans were worse, but it was a memorable moment for Tatum, Mannion, and Bane. When the time comes that they would be the ones baptizing young players in the league, it’s interesting to see what kind of special moments they would give. 

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