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February 2, 2009

LeBron James – The World’s Greatest Basketball Player SCHOOLS GQ Staffers

lebron2  My nine year old nephew Elijah (a H-U-G-E Kobe fan!) will vehemently disagree with the title of this post.  But Elijah, Auntie is merely using GQ’s words. 

I LOVE GQ magazine.  Even though it’s a “men’s” magazine I rarely miss a month.  This is a well written piece that had me living vicariously through the “GQ 6” and it had me chuckling to the end.  I’m with my nephew – I think Kobe is totally awesome, but so is LeBron :-).

Six pale, earthbound desk jockeys from GQ challenged the greatest basketball player on earth, also known as LeBron James, to a game of basketball at the time and place of his choosing. Unfortunately, the challenge was accepted

In retrospect, obviously, it was too good to be true, but in the grip of the fantasy we didn’t see it that way. We spent long stretches of our workdays talking about how there are five of us and only one of him, or how Trent and Will are nearly as tall as he is, or how one man, I don’t care if he is the greatest basketball player on earth, can only cover so much ground. It’s not like he’s a Transformer.

Andy, our executive editor/player-coach/liaison to LeBron’s publicist and the Cavaliers’ PR folks, sent us the following e-mail in late November: “It is on. Team GQ will be traveling from New York City to Cleveland, Ohio (in a van, make and model to be determined), on Sunday, December 7. We will be playing LeBron James, five-on-one, at 1 p.m. on Monday, December 8, at the Cavs practice facility. I repeat: It. Is. ON.”

The predictable flurry of YouTube clips soon followed—LeBron dunking from the free-throw line, LeBron blocking a shot by Chris Duhon all the way out to half-court, LeBron taking flight from ten feet out and throwing down a dunk of such unrestrained fury over Damon Jones that it will forever be the most memorable moment of Jones’s NBA career. Again, Andy via e-mail: “If we’re lucky, he’ll just jump over us, and we won’t suffer the indignity of taking his junk square in the face.”

But then Adam started in with the X’s and O’s—how we need to force LeBron left, how three-pointers are his Achilles’ heel, and how he, Adam Rapoport, style editor at Gentlemen’s Quarterly and occasional wearer of skinny white jeans, was prepared to take the charge if LeBron drove into the lane. Over the next week or so, as plans solidified (we would be driving to Cleveland not in a van but in an Escalade, a hybrid Escalade!), the delusional chatter continued. There was even talk at one point of “allowing” him a teammate—one of his Akron boys, maybe—because five-on-one couldn’t possibly be a game, and it would be kind of embarrassing if we beat him too handily. At the very least, we all agreed (with the exception of Andy, who is always the voice of reason, and Fred, who’s been around longer than the rest of us and possesses a veteran’s hard-earned wisdom): Mr. Chosen One was going to have to work to make it a game. We weren’t driving eight hours to look like a bunch of assclowns.

you can see the Nike billboard from the interstate. LeBron’s massive, striated arms outstretched, a faint halo of chalk dust surrounding him as he gazes skyward. It’s ten stories high and 212 feet wide and dominates the eastern face of the Sherwin-Williams building, which is basically across the street from Quicken Loans Arena, or the Q, where the Cavs play their home games. Last year, federal officials tried to force the city to take it down because it violates the 1965 Highway Beautification Act, which apparently forbids a billboard from being within 660 feet of a major highway. (Technically, the dispute was over a previous version of the banner, an equally stunning if less messianic image of LeBron in midflight, the ball cocked high above his head.) But to his great credit, Ohio’s governor, Ted Strickland, refused to remove the billboard, referring to it as a “beautiful display of commercial art” that the people of Cleveland have the rare and wonderful opportunity to enjoy. He’s got that right. It’s also a bit of a reality check if you happen to be among a group of magazine editors arriving in the frigid city at night and pulling over to the side of the road to take in just how physically awesome the man is whom you’ll be playing against the next day. Let’s just say it makes you question some things.

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