LeBron James Realized He Had Realistic Chance of Making NBA When He Was 16 Years Old: ‘They Dubbed Me the Chosen One at 16’

Los Angeles Lakers superstar LeBron James has been in the spotlight since he was a teenager in Akron, Ohio. Not even Michael Jordan, arguably the greatest player in NBA history, had to deal with that burden.

LeBron was not only under pressure to make it to the NBA since he was raised by a single mother who didn’t have much money but he was also dubbed “The Chosen One” by Sports Illustrated as a junior in high school. Many kids would have folded after being on the cover of Sports Illustrated, but LeBron was built differently and knew he had a bright future ahead.

LeBron James realized his NBA dream could come true after SI cover

On July 12, LeBron went on the Smartless podcast and said that his Sports Illustrated cover made him realize he had a realistic chance of making it to the NBA. The future Hall of Famer got his “Chosen One” tattoo in 2002 after the SI cover.

“The beginning of my junior year, I was 16 years old, and I was on the cover of ‘Sports Illustrated,’ and they dubbed me ‘The Chosen One’ at 16,” LeBron said, via Lakers.com. “So a lot of NBA execs were talking and saying that if I entered the (NBA) Draft right now, I could be the No. 1 pick. So I felt like I seen the success I was having, and the reason I knew I wanted to come back and give back to my community was because I knew the success that I was having, yes, it had to do with my abilities and my talent and me putting in the work, but the support that I had from my coaches and my friends and my mom. They stayed on my ass every day like, ‘Listen, this is what we’re doing. We have an opportunity to make this bigger than even what other people are saying. So let’s now (mess) it up.’ “

LeBron had a stellar run in high school at Saint Vincent-Saint Mary and entered his name for the 2003 NBA draft. What has transpired since has been nothing short of legendary.

LeBron James has four rings, four Finals MVPs, four regular-season MVPs

Since entering the NBA as the No. 1 overall pick in 2003, LeBron has compiled career averages of 27.0 points, 7.4 rebounds, and 7.4 assists with the Cleveland Cavaliers, Miami Heat, and Lakers. He has won four regular-season MVPs, four championships, four Finals MVPs, one scoring title, and one assist title.

LeBron is the third-leading scorer in NBA history, trailing only Kareem Abdul-Jabbar and Karl Malone. He’s also second all-time in player efficiency rating, sixth all-time in points per game, eighth all-time in assists, fifth all-time in triple-doubles, and third all-time in win shares.

The one blemish on LeBron’s résumé is his Finals record of 4-6. He’s also been swept twice and lost several fans in 2010 when he joined the Heat via the ESPN show, The Decision. However, LeBron’s move to the Heat netted him two championships, two Finals MVPs, and two regular-season MVPs, so it was clearly the right choice.

The two things left for LeBron to accomplish are to pass Malone and Abdul-Jabbar on the NBA’s all-time scoring list and win more championships. The King is two titles and two Finals MVPs away from tying Jordan.

Speaking of MJ, LeBron copied the Chicago Bulls legend by starring in the new Space Jam movie. However, James’ Space Jam is “totally different” from Jordan’s.

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Space Jam: A New Legacy wasn’t a sequel to Jordan’s Space Jam. LeBron was intimidated to do the movie since the first one was such a hit with kids, but he quickly bought in and gave it his all on set.

“It’s totally different from the first one that came out 25 years ago,” LeBron said. “When the script came to me, and I set it on my desk, I was very intimidated, just because I understand the legacy behind the first one. I was one that was in awe of it – I was 11 or 12 years old, loved the Looney Tunes, my aspiration for Michael Jordan was out of this world, so very intimidated. But I was able to get myself to a point where, ‘I want to do this.’ I felt like the Space Jam Legacy is so iconic and so great, I wanted to be a part of the legacy.”

It’s been a helluva ride for LeBron since he entered the spotlight as a junior in high school. He not only made his mom proud, but he also became an all-time NBA great and successful philanthropist.