LeBron James was the most-hyped teenage phenom in the history of sports. Sure, there were other people before him who got media attention and press, but nobody broke through to the national audience quite like King James, who went from having a promising freshman year to the Sports Illustrated cover by sophomore year to having his high school games being broadcast on ESPN in his junior year and becoming the most coveted No. 1 NBA Draft pick by his senior year. It was incredible to be part of, and, as someone who’s LeBron James’ age and grew up 15 minutes from him — and saw James’ St. Vincent-St. Mary’s play my high school our senior year — I can tell you the swarms of people around this guy were as big as The Beatles’ crowds.
While people like Zion Williamson at Duke experience the wildness of being cast in the spotlight, LeBron James was doing it before social media and the age of content at every turn. In fact, things were so crazy that James once caused a blackout in the city of Akron because the media coverage was so nuts.
Talking on the ESPN+ show The Boardroom, James and business manager Maverick Carter sat down to recap LeBron’s high school senior night, where he demanded the game be played in front of his fellow students at St. Vincent-St. Mary High School and not in the University of Akron’s arena, which is where most of his team’s games were played because of all the hype around him. Take a listen below.
That’s pretty crazy, guys. As Mav mentioned in the clip, “this isn’t the f*cking Staples Center,” so the tiny high school gym wasn’t able to support the demand of all the power needed for broadcasting to a national audience. It just goes to show the power of LeBron James, even at the age of 18.
With LeBron’s son, Bronny, just a year away from high school, it’ll be interesting to see if he can duplicate, or even surpass, the hype that his dad had while he was a teenager. It’s doubtful, but, hey, given the digital landscape now and his famous name, we may see LeBron James 2.0 happening again — so hopefully people have some backup generators at their homes just in case.