Cover Image for 18-year-old LeBron James caused 5-hour roadblock with 15K fans gathering to watch his summer league debut

18-year-old LeBron James caused 5-hour roadblock with 15K fans gathering to watch his summer league debut

Arjun Julka
|Fri Aug 12 2022

An 18-year-old LeBron James had 15K people show up for his first pro summer league game with the Cleveland Cavaliers.

Drafted straight into the NBA from St. Vincent–St. Mary High School in his hometown Akron, LeBron James was national news. Standing at 6ft 5 at the time, and weighing above 200lbs, the Cavaliers rookie was a physical specimen, having hoop fans around America eager to catch a glimpse of him.

James was a multimillionaire even below playing his first official game, courtesy of his one-of-a-kind contract with sports giant Nike. LBJ was the highest-paid NBA player in his rookie year with his shoe deal and salary combined from the Cavs.

Thus one can only envision the hype around the kid from Akron. Making his summer league debut in Orlando, James caused a 5-hour roadblock outside the arena before the game, with $5 tickets sold at $80 in the black market. Nonetheless, the Cavs rookie would make everyone’s money’s worth.

Also read: LeBron James rookie card: Lakers stars rookie card sold for record-breaking $1.8 million

Despite the enormous pressure, Bron delivered, and with style.

LeBron James’ summer league debut was a headline.

At the time, the Cavaliers were visiting the Orlando Magic, with fans from all over thronging to take notice of a generational talent in LeBron James. The Cavs forward clinched the W for his home team, scoring 14-points, 7-rebounds, and 6-assists, dominating the Magic 107-80.

“Poised looks like a man, they looked to him, he’s their leader immediately, brilliant passer, under control, smooth, tough, oh I was just overwhelmed, said former Magic senior vice president Pat Williams.”

Addressing his first post-game media conference, James had the following to say.

“Yeah, I like the big stage, my teammates like it too, like I keep telling you’ll, my crowd is bigger than the Cavs crowd last year.”

Entering his 20th season, King James continues to cross milestones. The eighteen-time All-Star shall surpass Kareem Abdul-Jabbar as the all-time leading scorer in the 2022-23 season. Nonetheless, there continues to be uncertainty over the LBJ winning his 5th championship as the Lakers push for a Kyrie Irving trade this summer.

Also read: “The last time LeBron James wasn’t selected to an All-NBA team was his rookie year!”: Looking at the Lakers superstar’s longevity



About the author
Arjun Julka

Arjun Julka

A 26-year-old from Mumbai. A huge Basketball fan who regularly consumes hours of basketball content, be it matches, debates, or analysis. Some of my other interests include CrossFit, watching documentaries, collecting sneakers, and trying out different types of cuisines.

Read more from Arjun Julka