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InsideHoops NBA [HOME] Oct. 30, 2003

LeBron James impresses world





LeBron James played his first-ever NBA regular season game and definitely exceeded all expectations, even from his harshest critics. Although the visiting Cavaliers lost to the Sacramento Kings, the story was not the results of the game, but the 25 points, nine assists, six rebounds and four steals on 12-of-20 shooting that James put up. And he had just two turnovers. Below are some quotes from around the media world.

"LeBron James proved without a doubt that he has the physical skills as well as actual basketball ability to eventually become an elite superstar in this league. Even if LeBron's shots don't fall, as sometimes they may not, he's a scorer who can get to the rim and make things happen. LeBron's passing ability is fantastic and he already understands how to get the ball to teammates at the right time. He's a raw superstar in the making. The hype was deserved." Jeff Lenchiner, editor of

"Former Boston Celtics guard Dennis Johnson, now a scout with the Portland Trail Blazers, was impressed. "His first quarter was excellent," Johnson said. "After a bit, he got a little nervous and excitedly tired. They called a timeout. He settled down and went back out and got his energy flowing. If his first quarter is any indication of how he's going to go, he's going to be good. There's no question about that." Cleveland Plain Dealer

"LeBron James could not stop smiling, and his grin got wider as his first game as a professional basketball player got closer. The Cavaliers' rookie, the No. 1 draft choice from Akron's St. Vincent St. Mary High School, was about to fulfill the dream he has had since he got his first basketball for Christmas at the age of 3. By evening's end, it was a dream realized in spectacular fashion, unless you asked James himself." Cleveland Plain Dealer

"The Kings were thrilled James started his career in their building. "This is the biggest regular season game we've ever had here," said Joe Maloof, whose family owns the Kings. "There was a buzz around the city. It doesn't get better than this. This is great for the league. We all need him. He's a breath of fresh air." When he was introduced, James was greeted with cheers and boos from the rowdy sellout crowd of 17,317 - which included James' mother, Gloria, and a few family friends from Akron, along with Chicago Cubs manager Dusty Baker and former baseball stars Reggie Jackson and Joe Morgan." Cleveland Plain Dealer

"According to Kings officials, 350 press credentials were issued for the game, twice the amount for a regular-season game. Troy Hanson, director of media relations for the Kings, likened the number of reporters to what the team would expect for the second round of the playoffs. But, he said, the number of international reporters present was unprecedented for the Kings, who welcomed representatives from Canada, Taiwan and Japan." Cleveland Plain Dealer

"One thing I can tell you for sure about LeBron James after watching the first quarter of his first post-high school game: Get an NBA All-Star jersey ready for the kid. He nailed his first three shots, all baseline jumpers, including a 20- foot fallaway over the reach of 7-footer Brad Miller. Maybe Bob Donewald's defense is underrated. First quarter for LeBron: 12 points (6-for-10), two rebounds, three assists, three steals, one breakaway dunk. Hey, Nike: $90 million to rent James' feet? You guys low-balled the kid." San Francisco Chronicle

"It was fun to listen to the Arco Arena PA man, whose shtick is that when a King scores, he screams out the player's name as if he had just descended from heaven. After three or four James buckets, the PA man was saying "LeBron James" as if answering the question, "Who did you say was taking your girlfriend to the prom?" Here's the deal: The youngster likes to play, he is fearless and confident, and he has made a connection with his teammates. He is already something a guy like Kobe Bryant will never be: one of the boys." San Francisco Chronicle

""I could have helped my team a little bit more down the stretch, I could have been a little bit more aggressive to help us get the win," said James, who finished with 25 points, 9 assists, 6 rebounds and 2 turnovers in 43 minutes. The performance bested the 16-point debut of Michael Jordan, nearly equaled the 26-point debut of Magic Johnson and by far exceeded the expectations of those who saw his early preseason games. Playing in front of a sell-out crowd that booed him as soon as he was introduced, in an arena plunked in the middle of a cow pasture that makes the opening minutes of the "Wizard of Oz" look glamorous, James simply declined to be intimidated by the Kings, their fans or the enormous expectations that have been heaped upon him ever since his senior year of high school." Washington Post

"Too much hype for LeBron James? Maybe too little. No one remembered that Cleveland lost to Sacramento 106-92 on Wednesday night. What everyone remembered was James' scintillating performance in his first NBA regular season game. The 18-year-old rookie did nothing to dampen the super-charged hype surrounding him. His all-around game against the Kings should put a huge smile on the face of NBA commissioner David Stern. It's the kind of coming-out party that can eclipse the negative publicity the league has endured." Portland Oregonian

"James stepped on the court wearing the Cavaliers' new wine and gold with white trim road uniform and sported his new custom-designed, black-and-white "Air Zoom Generation" Nike basketball shoes. He wore a matching headband and a white rubber band with the inscription "King James" on his right wrist." Portland Oregonian

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