- LeBron James is known as one of the most unselfish players on the basketball court.
- According to one story, James’ basketball values were instilled in him when his entire youth league team earned MVP honors.
- James said he realized then that basketball is a team sport and can’t be run by a single player.
We may not have the LeBron James as we know him if not for participation trophies.
According to Ben Cohen of The Wall Street Journal, when James was nine years old, he played his first organized basketball in the Akron Recreation Bureau’s youth league.
James’ team went undefeated and won the championship. Every player on the team got a trophy and was named MVP.
James told Cohen that that trophy helped him come to understand that basketball was a team game.
“Right then I knew that this is a team game,” James said in May. “It’s not about one individual and how much one individual can do in order to win championships. In order to win, you have to have a full team.”
James added: “It’s just been instilled in me since I was nine years old, when I first started playing, of what it means to be in a situation where your teammates rely on you.”
The team’s coach said James wasn’t happy at first that every player was MVP, but he came to understand the decision.
Those principles can be seen in James’ game today. James may dominate the ball for the Cleveland Cavaliers, but he’s a selfless player, happy to pass to open teammates and try to create easy looks for others.
According to Cohen, James even registered an assist in the league when he insisted that the youngest and smallest player on the team get a basket. This particular teammate often fell over when receiving passes, so James rolled the ball to him to help him score.
According to Cohen, in the championship game, going into overtime, James had scored 17 points and assisted on five other baskets, having a hand in nearly every basket for his team. It’s an outcome not unlike this postseason when, unfortunately, one of the major storylines has been James trying to will the Cavs to wins, but occasionally not receiving enough help from his teammates.