At the 2003 NBA Draft, the Cleveland Cavaliers selected LeBron James with the No. 1 pick and the Los Angeles Lakers selected Luke Walton with the No. 32 pick.
Sixteen years later, Walton is already in his third season as head coach while James is still the best player in the game. As they share a unique connection, Walton and James are looking to help the Lakers return to championship contention.
Amid the team’s four-game winning streak, James passed Wilt Chamberlain for fifth on the all-time scoring list against the Portland Trail Blazers.
With James humbled by his latest accomplishment, Walton put the future Hall of Famer’s career in perspective. “An amazing, amazing career this guy’s had. I don’t think anyone’s come into the league with more hype and more pressure on him than LeBron,” Walton said.
“I came in the same year, he was 18 years old and coming out of high school. Dubbed ‘The King,’ and he lived up to it. I mean, nobody does that. And for him to play the game the way that he does, as unselfish of a player as he is, and then to be in the top five of the scoring list, it speaks a lot to who he is, how hard he works and how much he loves the game of basketball.”
As the most-hyped player of all-time, James has somehow exceeded expectations coming straight out of St. Vincent–St. Mary High School.
At 33 years old, James will continue to make history and has a legitimate chance to pass Kareem Abdul-Jabbar as the NBA’s all-time scoring leader.
While there will continue to be debates about where James ranks among the greats, he is focused on the present. With the Lakers winning six out of their last seven games, they are looking to end their five-year playoff drought in the extremely competitive Western Conference.