HK fans can't get enough of LeBron
After waiting patiently for close on two hours, Hong Kong fans only saw a tantalising glimpse of the power and panache of NBA superstar LeBron James who performed a solitary one-handed dunk which almost brought the rafters down at a packed Southorn Stadium yesterday evening.
The 2.03-metre Cleveland Cavaliers forward kept the fans waiting 45 minutes before making a belated entry along with Team USA coach Mike Krzyzewski at the Wan Chai venue. After an orchestrated 'Q&A' session, James sat and watched local youngsters, who play in the Nike Hong Kong Youth Basketball League, go through their paces before showing off his immense talent, albeit all too briefly.
The reason for the delay earlier: 'I went shopping before I came. I love the shopping in Hong Kong, I love the electronics, video games and camcorders. I bought a lot of things,' smiled James. He did not show any signs of discomfort from the injury he picked up on Tuesday night, when he tasted a 'hand sandwich' from a Brazilian opponent in the final game of the China Basketball Challenge in Guangzhou. Despite a bloodied nose, James played his part as Team USA beat Brazil 90-86 to follow up on their 119-73 thrashing of China.
'It is good to be back in Hong Kong. It is exciting times for us, it is exciting times for USA Basketball,' said James as he greeted the 2,000-strong crowd brought in for the show arranged by his shoe sponsor who had paid him an unprecedented US$95 million even before he had played a game in the NBA three years ago.
Today the 21-year-old James is widely considered to be one of the most gifted and versatile players in the world. His talent, and that of his Team USA teammates will be tested later this month, when the Americans try to win back the world championship title in Japan.
Asked what the difference was between the original Dream Team and Dream Team Seven - the present one - coach Krzyzewski was quick to point out that James and company were just part of the 'national' outfit. 'We don't call this team a Dream Team. This is a national team. The first Dream Team was just a collection of stars. It is an entirely different concept now, for this squad has development players too. Not everyone is an All-Star in this side,' said 'Coach K'.
But James, is an All-Star. Commonly known as 'King James', LeBron has already won a fistful of accolades including NBA Rookie of the Year in 2003-04, is a two-time NBA All-Star and won the MVP award in the 2006 All-Star game.
Hong Kong fans hoped he would show some of the skills. But they were left disappointed.
James was more intent on recording the skills of the local youngsters with the camcorder he had bought yesterday.
But he had one word of advice for the local aspirants 'whenever I step on to court, I want to be the best player'.