LeBron James‘ relationship with the city of Cleveland has been up and down throughout his career. He was the savior of the franchise when the Cavaliers drafted him in 2003, then city turned on him when he left for Miami. He was welcomed back with open arms after his South Florida flirtation, and he’s now probably the most beloved Cleveland athlete ever after leading the Cavs to a title last year.
But if LeBron had his way back in 2003, this never would have happened. ESPN’s Brian Windhorst did a story on King James where he revealed that High School ‘Bron had no desire to play for his hometown squad.
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.
The five teams with the highest odds of getting the No. 1 pick in 2003 were, in order, Cleveland, Denver, Toronto, Miami, and the Clippers. Those five teams took up spots in the top-6 of the Draft – Detroit picked second, but that selection belonged to Memphis and was protected if the Grizzlies got the No. 1 pick.