SACRAMENTO -- Where it all began. Sacramento holds a special place in the heart of LeBron James. The sure-fire Hall of Fame forward began his career October 29, 2003 at Arco Arena and what a start it was.
“It’s always special when I come back to Sac, just knowing this is the start of it all - my first game as a professional,” James said before Cleveland took the floor for shootaround Friday morning. “It’s always got an attachment to me, just being here and playing.”
In a preview of the greatness to come, James scored 25 points, dished out nine assists, grabbed six rebounds and snared four steals in 42 minutes of action in that first game. Not a bad debut for a young man who had just finished his senior year in highschool.
The Cavs make just one stop a year in Sacramento, so this is the first time James is getting a look at the new Golden 1 Center. The nostalgia of coming back to Sacramento has changed with the new building, but the superstar forward still enjoys the experience.
“It’s going to be a little bit different because of the new arena, but in the past 13-years, I’ve always reflected coming out of the tunnel and playing,” James told a sea of reporters. “Just coming here as an 18-year-old kid and starting my journey, so there’s a lot of reflection.”
James fielded questions for over eight minutes, but the theme of the day kept coming back to that first game as a pro.
“For me to be in a position where I was putting on a pair of shoes that had my name on them and putting on a jersey that had my family’s name on the back, it was just a moment where anything was possible,” James said. “If you put your heart to it and have a great supporting cast and you put in the work, then things can come true. It was a great moment for me.”
As for the matchup with the Kings, the four-time MVP and three-time NBA Champ had nothing but glowing things to say about Sacramento Kings big man, DeMarcus Cousins.
“It starts with the head of the snake and that’s big Cuz,” James said of the Kings franchise player. “He’s the best big in our game.”
“His ability, not only play in the interior, but he handles the ball extremely well, he’s shooting the three, he gets his guys involved at times too,” James added. “It’s a big challenge for not only our bigs -- Tristan (Thompson), Kev (Love) and Channing (Frye), but for the rest of the team as well. We’ve got to pay a lot of attention to him.”
The Cavs come into Sacramento riding a two-game losing streak with the Golden State Warriors coming up on Monday evening as part of the NBA’s tribute to Martin Luther King Jr. Day. They haven’t played well of late, but the addition of sharpshooter Kyle Korver should help.
According to head coach Tyronn Lue, Iman Shumpert will get the start at the shooting guard spot for only the second time this season, displacing DeAndre Liggins, who has started the last 12 games for the Cavs.
Word on the street is that James is set to release his new ... old shoe. The four-time league MVP plans to unveil his first retro sneaker, the Nike Zoom Generations 1 and may even take the court in the footwear when he faces the Kings Friday night at Golden 1 Center.
“It’s retro time, it’s time, and I can’t be more proud at this point this point in my life, at this point in my career to know that it all started from right here.” James said while holding up his signature kicks on a video released by the Uninterrupted.
James spoke on the release at shootaround. It’s his favorite shoe that he’s ever put out and he may run with it for a short stint against the Kings before switching out for his standard game gear.
“It was the start of it all, I’m just blessed to be in this position,” James said.