If you think Zion Williamson was hyped up coming out of high school, you should remember the early 2000’s when a young LeBron James started getting traction at St. Vincent-St. Mary High School. It was evident we were talking about a once-in-a-generation type of talent that became a national star before ever stepping on the NBA court.
All that hype and expectations would lead to LeBron skipping college and going to the NBA straight out of high school at 18 years old as the unquestioned #1 pick. The Cavs took the “The Chosen One,” as Lebron proved everybody who had any doubts about him from the jump wrong. Former NBA player and coach, nowadays mostly known as the iconic ESPN commentator, Mark Jackson, shared how he knew LeBron was going to be great despite one of his teammates at the time doubting the prodigy:
“I can remember playing for a team, and LeBron was in high school, and he was on TV. And I came into the locker room the next day, and I said this guy is going to be special. And he’s like no, this guy is going to be hyped up and he’s going to fall short because they’re giving him everything. I’m like, ‘Did you watch the guy I saw last night on TV?‘ He has no weaknesses in his game.”Mark Jackson, Club Shay Shay
As Jackson predicted, LeBron would rise to the occasion and become the face of the NBA for the next 18 years, still going at it at 36 years old. The most accomplished player of this generation managed to snag numerous accolades to his name and engrave himself as one of the most recognizable personalities in the world. But despite becoming one of the best players in history, LeBron also faced his fair share of criticism, as he is widely regarded as the most hated player in the NBA by a mile.
Some don’t like his game, and others don’t like his off-court actions, as a large number of NBA fans have no love for “The King.” Mark Jackson explained how that’s a shame and that we should not take LeBron’s greatness for granted.
“This guy is as good as it gets, and we truly take him for granted. The same way we do all our greats, but he’s a guy that’s done it the right way and continues to take pride in finishing the proper way. He should be celebrated and acknowledged. We truly do take him for granted. He’s special.”Mark Jackson, Club Shay Shay
I personally am not a fan of LeBron’s game and personality, but one thing I will never deny is that “The Chosen One” lived up to his nickname. LeBron has established himself as one of the greatest players ever and a true role model for the younger generations. A family man without a single stain on his resume, LeBron has justified all the expectations set for him on and off the court. Jackson also shared his opinion on why LeBron gets all the hate:
“I think today we have the internet. When you have the internet, you have Instagram; you have Twitter…now you can break down all the analytics to its purest form and nitpick.”Mark Jackson, Club Shay Shay
Jackson is on point, as the rise of social media has vastly influenced and changed how we view the game and players compared to the old-school era’s. Now everything is set for you on a plate to see videos, stats, and off-court stuff on the daily, making NBA players the easy target of ridicule or criticism. If social media existed in the ’90s, I’m pretty sure even a guy like Michael Jordan would have a lot more haters. You have every right to like or dislike a player, but when it comes to a guy like LeBron, you at least have to appreciate their greatness no matter if you’re a fan of his or not.