A Moment in The King’s World: The Exclusive Training Session with LeBron James
Anton Roxas on Sep 03, 2017 09:26 AM
Veteran sportscaster Anton Roxas was one of the lucky few who spent time with LeBron James during an exclusive media training session.
The first time I saw LeBron James in the flesh was back in July 23, 2013, his first visit to the Philippines. I was sitting courtside at the Mall of Asia Arena as a spectator, mesmerized at the sight of the best basketball player on the planet walking just a few meters away from me. As I pulled out my cellphone camera to take a photo, I captured something I did not expect to witness.
King James himself, in the flesh. Literally.
A little over 17 months later, I was in Miami, Florida with my Mother to celebrate Christmas Day by watching an NBA game at the American Airlines Arena. It wasn’t just any ordinary game though. The Cleveland Cavaliers visited the Miami Heat and it was LeBron’s first game back in South Beach since returning to play for The Land.
#ReturnoftheKing - LeBron James tallied 30 points (10/18 FT), 4 rebounds and 8 assists for the Cavaliers in their 101-91 loss to the Heat on #ChristmasDay2014. He registered his first point in the game via the free-throw line at the 6:39 mark of the 1st quarter. Although some fans boo'd LeBron, they were drowned out by countless others who still showed their love and support for the man who helped deliver back-to-back Championships to the City of Miami. #WITNESS #CLEvsMIA #NBALive 🏀
LeBron put on a show for the fans as did his old pal Dwyane Wade, who scored a game-high 31 points for the Heat, who prevailed over the Cavs, 101-91. It was a great reunion between the two former teammates.
So, when I was told that I would be just one of 12 people selected to be a part of the Exclusive Media Training Session in the LeBron James Tour, I didn’t know how to feel. I never thought it would be real. I was going to work out with LeBron James.
September 2, 2017. This is a day that I will remember for the rest of my life because throughout the entire experience, I felt like I was in a dream. On the way to Kerry Sports, Shangri-La Fort, I was chatting with sports.abs-cbn.com Editor-in-Chief and ABS-CBN Sports News Desk Head, Lorenzo Manguiat, and colleague, Migs Bustos. They were telling me about LeBron’s Instagram stories and how he had already put in two workouts at 3:00 A.M. and 11:00 A.M. More importantly, LeBron seemed like he was in a good mood.
I arrived at the venue and joined my fellow media men at the registration booth. Moments later, we were ushered to a private room with brand new Nike gear perfectly set up for us to wear for the event. It was like Christmas Day all over again. Only this time, I wouldn’t be all the way up in the nosebleed seats to see Number 23. I would be standing on the same court with him.
After taking photos, videos and sharing them on my social media accounts, I strapped on the new LeBron Soldier XI’s provided to me by Nike. I was ready to go. Like LeBron always says: #StriveForGreatness
At about 2 o’ clock, we were called to the basketball court where we were welcomed by host, Boom Gonzalez and coaches, Xavi Nuňag and Yuri Escueta. Boom briefly explained the guidelines of the event before turning us over the two coaches to begin the warm-up.
Coach Xavi instructed us to sprint from one end of the baseline to the other, backpedal to the halfcourt line, do laterals to the sideline and backpedal again to the spot where we started. After completing this drill five times, Coach Xavi summoned us to the free-throw line when the door to the court suddenly flung open.
“Look who decided to join us!” Boom announced.
Six-foot-eight from Akron, Ohio. LeBron James.
I was stunned.
As The King walked towards our group, I looked at his face and he had this big smile on it. I’m used to seeing him look all business and angry in what he calls, “Savage Mode” so to see him in a jolly mood took me aback. Then I realized, this is my chance to interact with LeBron. I snapped out of my funk and gave him a high five and tapped his shoulder as he passed. And then I thought to myself, “This is crazy.”
LeBron James is in the building.
We were now in the presence of greatness as the training session began. Coach Yuri explained that we would be doing drills that LeBron James himself repeats on a daily basis. I remember seeing a video of LeBron just dribbling the ball from one end of the court to the other and dunking it home before going to the other side and doing the same thing. Over and over again. They made us do that drill. Now, I don’t jump high enough to dunk, but I got a good laugh when Coach Yuri joked to me by saying, “Puwede idakdak ha! (Dunking is allowed)”
Focused and determined to convert every lay-up, I relished the experience. I treated it as a once in a lifetime type of thing. The difference from being a spectator to being pushed to work out by a three-time NBA Champion is astronomical. Sweat was dripping profusely from my face and body but I didn’t feel any fatigue at all. I guess being around the best in the world brings out the best in you. Everything you’ve got.
And then, I was astonished all over again. LeBron James suddenly gathered us lucky 12 Media members center court. I made sure I stood close to him. I was an arm’s length away. He asked us if we we’re tired and then proceeded to give a little pep talk. Honestly, I was too overwhelmed to absorb all the words that he was saying but I did remember one phrase.
“Welcome to my world.”
Even for just a moment, I was touched. I was moved by a man who has already played 14 NBA Seasons but still averaged career-highs in rebounds and assists – an indication that he is still working to become better. Being up close and personal with LeBron James is like seeing a god. But, the most amazing thing about him is that he doesn’t think of himself as one. Like an ordinary human being, he strives hard every day to achieve greatness.
That’s what makes him basketball royalty.