The Sacramento Kings surprised LeBron James with a sentimental gift on Sunday. They left a bottle of wine and a photograph from a game played on Oct. 29, 2003, at his locker. The picture is from James’ first NBA game when he was just 18 years old. Although he couldn’t legally drink the wine at that time, that game holds a special place in his career. It was the beginning of his illustrious NBA journey, and Sunday marked its 20th anniversary.
Unfortunately, history repeated itself as the Kings emerged victorious once again. This time, the game was more challenging as it required overtime for Sacramento to overcome James and the Lakers. However, there were a few positive similarities that James could reflect on more fondly.
In 2003, James scored a total of 25 points in 42 minutes and 50 seconds. This time, he scored 27 points in slightly less playing time, clocking in at 39 minutes and five seconds. Although there isn’t an easy way to track the list of players who have played over 39 minutes per game in the same city with a 20-year gap, it’s safe to say the list is quite short.
Prior to the Kings game, James shared his memories of his NBA debut in a video with the Lakers social media team. He recalled the play that led to his first NBA basket.
“Coming off a floppy action. Our coach at the time, Paul Silas, we used to run floppy, and that’s one of the most basic foundation plays,” James explained. “It’s two guards starting underneath, with the two bigs on the block, and you decide which side you want to come off of. So I was able to come off a pin down from our big. I faded to the corner, took one bounce, and was able to just shoot over the top. I was nervous as hell, I’m not even going to hold y’all. It was my first game in the NBA, something I always dreamed about.”
Over the past 21 NBA seasons, James has achieved all his dreams and more. He has won four championships, four MVP awards, and holds the title of the league’s all-time leading scorer. Considered one of the greatest players in NBA history, it all started with that memorable night in Sacramento 20 years ago. And two decades later, he continues to dominate the league.
While James couldn’t secure victory in these two significant games against the Kings, he has defeated them numerous times throughout his career. Out of 39 encounters, James boasts a 25-14 record against Sacramento. If he needs more pleasant memories to reminisce upon while enjoying his wine, he has plenty to choose from.