Veteran ESPN reporter Brian Windhorst is not only one of the more respected hoops writers around the league, he’s also an Akron native who’s been covering LeBron James almost from the very beginning. In many ways, their careers have run parallel. Windhorst is a St. Vincent-St. Mary alum who started on the Cavs beat while LeBron was still a high school phenom and has been closely monitoring his trajectory ever since.
After “The Decision,” he took a job at ESPN following the Miami Heat full-time, then came back to Cleveland in 2014 upon LeBron’s prodigal return to the organization where it all started. Windhorst has since become a regular on the network’s hugely-popular NBA show, The Jump with Rachel Nichols, and we recently caught up with him to reminisce about his favorite moments covering LeBron over the years.
St. Vincent-St. Mary vs. Oak Hill Academy, 2003
Windhorst: I want to say it was around December 1 or 2, 2003, he played this nationally television game on ESPN, and this is the first time where a high school’s game had been done like this. Not ESPNU, not streaming. It was on ESPN, and Bill Walton flew in and called the game. They were promoting it on ESPN throughout the day, and he had a humongous f*cking game.
Not only did he have a great game and they won, and Oak Hill was ranked No. 1 at the time, but he had three or four highlight plays that could be easily packaged into a highlight package and shown over and over, and that’s important. I’m convinced he made tens of millions of dollars that night, because had he failed or had he had an average game or whatever, which is probably why a large part of the audience tuned it, his aura around him would have faded.
Instead it only got amped up, and it only got ESPN’s other national outlets to cover him more and only made him more desired by the shoe companies. I firmly believe he made tens of millions of dollars that night. That was a huge moment in his career.