‘I got little nerves in my stomach right now, but once the jump ball startup I’ll be ready to play.’ This was LeBron James on October 29, 2003, minutes before making his long-awaited NBA debut against the Sacramento Kings.
To this day, this remains one of the most hyped moments in NBA history, and like so many times throughout his 17 years in the NBA, LeBron was able to exceed the hype. He finished the game with 25 points, 6 rebounds, 9 assists, and 4 steals in 42 minutes of action, but his efforts weren’t enough for the Cavs to win their opener against the Kings. And despite his incredible individual outing, James wasn’t satisfied.
I could’ve helped my team a little bit more down the stretch. Once they started making their run, I could’ve been more aggressive to try to pull out a victory, try to steal one on the West coast.LeBron James, House of Highlights
The Cavs were down 13 at the half but were able to cut the lead to 5 by the end of the 3rd. However, they were outscored 23-14 in the final 12 minutes, as Sacramento ran away with a 106-92 season-opening victory. And when LeBron talked about doing more, the fourth quarter is exactly what he referred to. He only had 6 points in 10 minutes on the floor, and that wasn’t nearly enough to complete the comeback and come out victorious in his first NBA game.
But no one held him to that standard yet. The fact he went from playing kids in highschool to grown men in the best league in the world and put up 25 in his first game was impressive enough. It wasn’t his time to be the decisive factor. But LeBron held himself accountable. It just goes to show the mindset of a 19-year-old kid who was destined to be great. It’s the same mindset he holds today, which allowed him to build one of the greatest resumes the NBA has ever seen.
Foundations were laid on October 29, 2003, and James kept building on them. 17 years later, he’s going stronger than ever while keeping the same approach and holding himself to the same standard as he did after he put on an NBA uniform for the first time.