The NBA Changed Forever 15 Years Ago Today
There have been a lot of highly anticipated NBA debuts over the last 15 years, but none even come close to the hype surrounding October 29, 2003. It was then that the most hyped high school player maybe ever made his official NBA debut in Sacramento, and right away you knew we were in for something special. LeBron finished this game with 25/6/9/4 on 12-20 shooting, and even as an 18 year old he was making grown men his bitch. Compared to some other prep to pro debuts, I’d say this one was pretty special. You look at the list of other guys like Amare, KG, Kobe, Kwame Brown, TMac etc, and nobody had more than 10 points.
It’s also safe to say that from this moment on, LeBron became the best player in the NBA. Even as an 18 year old who was raw and had holes in his game, there was nobody like him and really there hasn’t been anyone quite like him since. He finished that rookie year as the youngest ever to win ROY with a final line of 20.9/5.5/5.9. In reality we should have seen this coming given what his high school career looked like
I remember being in high school when LeBron’s games were on ESPN and it was almost as if he was playing a different sport. My brain just couldn’t comprehend how someone who was around my age was essentially a different species on the basketball court. You see high school kids get hyped up all the time, but nobody has lived up to it quite like LeBron has. You can hate him for a variety of reasons, believe me I do, but you cannot debate that he has backed up every single bit of hype he had since he was first declared The Chosen One on that SI cover.
You could make the case that LeBron has deserved the MVP basically every season since that 2003 debut, and honestly it’s a disservice he only has 4 MVPs. A victim of voter fatigue, there are definitely two or three that he for sure didn’t win just because people were tired of voting for him. What hasn’t changed is he’s been the best player on the planet for well over a decade, and certainly the most valuable player in the NBA. Justy look at what happens to the teams that he leaves. Here’s a hint, they stink.
As the NBA moves into a direction where there is more and more extremely promising young talent, where almost every team in the league has one or two young studs that fans are hoping change the future of their franchise, I think we can all agree there will never be another force quite like LeBron James. The fact that he’s even better now, in Year 16, continues to make no sense, but at the same time that debut in SAC did give us a glimpse of what we were in store for moving forward.
Crazy to think about all the shit we’ve seen from LeBron since that first game, makes me feel old as shit.