For LeBron James, Sacramento will always be more than just a stop in one of 29 other NBA cities. As the site of his first ever regular season game, the capital city holds a unique place in the four-time MVP’s storied career.
“It was hectic,” James told reporters before his latest visit to Sacramento yesterday. ”It was a lot of cameras waiting to see what I was capable of doing. I had a lot of friends and family as well.”
It’s been more than 10 years since James made his NBA debut at ARCO Arena. Despite the circus leading up to it, the then 18-year-old phenom exceeded all expectations and met the hype surrounding him in his first professional game. James scored 25 points on 12-of-20 shooting and recorded nine assists for the Cleveland Cavaliers in a 106-92 loss to an elite Sacramento Kings team.
“It was more than just a basketball game, I know that,” James added. “I was happy to get my campaign started.”
The Associated Press’ Male Athlete of the Year for 2013 made his previous trip to Sacramento amidst uncertainty surrounding the Kings. In early January, he played in what many thought would be his final game in the state capital after a deal had been reached to sell the Kings to group of Seattle-based investors. He finished with 20 points on 7-of-10 shooting, seven assists and five steals in a 29-point rout of the Kings.
The night before, however, James was part of the festivities for Sacramento Mayor Kevin Johnson‘s annual St. HOPE Fundraiser. The two-time Finals MVP grew up idolizing the former point-guard-turned-politician and was happy that everything turned out in Johnson’s favor.
“Kevin is a great friend of mine,” James said of the mayor. ”I was excited for him that they got to keep the team here and it was a fun event.”
WATCH: Highlights from James’ first career game in Sacramento