NBA Icon LeBron James urged to declare for NBA draft before completing high school

Talents like LeBron James are rare to find in any sports, where even at age 16 he was already dubbed ‘The Chosen One’ by Sports Illustrated. LeBron, while in high school proved he was good enough to start his NBA career. If not for the NBA’s strict rule that didn’t allow 18-year-olds to play in the NBA, LeBron would have been drafted in 2002 while he was in high school as a Junior.

Though there were several predictions that LeBron was going to be drafted into the NBA while in High School, that didn’t happen because of some obvious reasons which LeBron explained to Slam Magazine several years after he later got drafted into the NBA.

LeBron James faced early NBA Draft decisions

LeBron James had been one of the most promising talents in the history of the league to enter the NBA. He got drafted into the NBA straight out of high school, and he immediately made a significant impression. And it wasn’t long after that he had modeled himself into an NBA icon.

But what if LeBron James had been drafted a year earlier? Well, a lot of people wanted LeBron to enter the draft after finishing his junior year of high school. LeBron explained why it would be impossible for him to join the NBA following his junior year in his diary with SLAM magazine.

LeBron James
Via Getty

LeBron said, “There was a lot of hype this summer [2002] about me trying to get into the draft after my junior year of high school. Here’s the real: It’s not going to happen. It really can’t happen and I’m not even going to be pressured about it. People overreacted, but that’s what reporters do sometimes. Regardless, I’m gonna stay. I got my three best friends here at St. V and want to graduate with them. End of story.”

Bron ended the rumors and returned to playing basketball in high school. He averaged 25.3 points per game (PPG), 7.9 rebounds per game (RPG), and 5.0 assists per game (APG) throughout his high school career. After completing his senior year, he declared for the 2003 NBA Draft. This marked the start of an incredible career that has now spanned 20 seasons and counting.

Michael Jordan doubted LeBron’s NBA franchise player potential

Michael Jordan surprisingly said in an interview back in the 2002-03 season that he didn’t think LeBron, as a rookie, could be a franchise player when LeBron James was in high school and preparing to enter the NBA.  Jordan said, “He may think he’s great enough to be on this level now. But when he gets on this level and plays against guys who’ve been competitive and very good on this level, he’s going to find it’s a big difference from that 5-10 high school kid.”

LeBron James
Via Getty

Jordan’s comments were clearly harsh, but there might be a good reason why he said it. MJ concluded by saying “If he embraces the dedication needed to become the best basketball player he can be, keeps improving, accepts challenges, and doesn’t grow complacent with his gifts or the expectations placed on him, he has a real shot at being a successful pro.” Jordan had faith in LeBron’s potential, mainly if he remained committed to his craft.

What are your thoughts on Michael Jordan’s early comments on LeBron James? Share with us in the comments.

Shariare Hasib

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Shariare Hasib is an NBA Editor at SportsKnot. With a master's degree in journalism from a prestigious university, Shariare started writing about the sport during his undergraduate years. Since then, he has been fascinated by LeBron James' lasting impact as well as Stephen Curry's incredible consistency. He specializes in live basketball coverage. Apart from reporting on trade speculations and match updates during off-season activities, Shariare frequently interacts with fan communities to stay abreast of the constantly evolving NBA scene.


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