Before LeBron James was LeBron James he was, well, still LeBron James, but with hundreds of millions fewer dollars, a runny nose, and a penchant for action figures. In LeBron’s first season ever playing organized basketball in his hometown of Akron, Ohio in 1993, Little LeBron went undefeated, won a championship, and was named his team’s most valuable player.
The Summit Lake Hornets which comprised between kids aged 8 to 10 from the same community center won Akron Recreation Bureau’s youth league in 1993 thanks in large part to–and stop me if this sounds familiar–LeBron carrying a team of weaker players.
In a solid Wall Street Journal piece about James being a lifelong team player, an interesting anecdote from LeBron’s MVP season on The Summit Lake Hornets seems more relevant than ever 25 years later.
“At 9 years old,” Reed said, “he knew how to pass to 7-year-olds without knocking them down.”
One of those boys, Sonny Spoon, was too young for the league and sat on the Hornets’ bench only because his dad was a team manager. He was such a pipsqueak that it was actually a problem for his teammates.
“Nobody could pass him the ball without him falling over,” McGee said.
LeBron James could. In one of the last games of his first season, James took it upon himself to make sure the smallest guy on the team scored. The only way to get his teammate a bucket was to get creative. “He rolled him the ball on the ground,” McGee said. Sonny Spoon picked up the pass from LeBron James and took a shot with all his might. When the ball went in, James got the assist.
LeBron’s otherworldly individual NBA Finals performances will likely be all but shot from the record after the Warriors put the Cavs out of their misery. LBJ detractors will relish in their LeBron vs. MJ confirmation bias. Skip Bayless will yell on TV about how LeBron should be traded for a bag of peanuts. And not much of the burden will be put on the shoulders of a team of grown-up Sonny Spoons. Sad.
[h/t Wall Street Journal]