LeBron James didn’t want Cavaliers to draft him in 2003

In Lebron James’ second stint as a member of the Cleveland Cavaliers, he was able to finally bring a championship back to his home state of Ohio. But as the 2003 NBA Draft approached, James told those closest to him would prefer to play elsewhere. 

According to a recent report by ESPN’s Brian Windhorst, James was contemplating pulling an Eli Manning — demanding that the Cavaliers, who held the No. 1 pick, either trade his rights to a club he wished to play for, or risk James sitting out a full year and re-enter the draft the following season.

When James was a teenager, he started attending games at the arena, and he couldn’t believe how bad the Cavs were, how empty the arena often was, with its bright blue seats seeming like a neon sign of disinterest. During his senior year of high school, he went to several games, was given courtside seats and visited the locker room. His thought was pretty clear after he watched that 17-win team with the lowest attendance in the league: They were awful, and he didn’t want to be a part of it.

Brian Windhorst

James who grew up a Chicago Bulls fan, thanks to the man whom James honors by wearing his iconic No. 23 (Michael Jordan), was actually hopeful that he’d end up in the Windy City. Not many men would want to pick up the slack that Air Jordan left over, but as we know by now, LeBron James isn’t most men.

The Bulls, however, finished the 2002-03 season 30-52 and were saddled with the No. 7 pick, which they used on Kirk Heinrich out of the University of Kansas.

It’s hard to say James’ first stint in Cleveland wasn’t a rousing success. No, he wasn’t able to hoist the Larry O’Brien Championship trophy, but in those first seven seasons, while playing for his hometown team, James was named an All-Star six different times, won two league MVP awards, and set the stage for his inevitable return to lead the Cavaliers to the 2015-16 NBA Championship.

All in all, I’d say James made the correct decision keeping his thoughts close to the vest back in 2003.

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