LeBron James dazzles ‘unbelievable’ fans in 2nd Manila trip
Five minutes was all it took for LeBron James to make it unforgettable.
With a little over five minutes left on the clock during the scrimmages between Nike Rise kids and select players, James put on a jersey and took over the show before thousands of appreciative fans at the Mall of Asia Arena Thursday.
Knowing what exactly the crowd wanted, James repeatedly rose up and dazzled with an array of throwdowns that got everyone at MOA Arena up on their feet and roaring in delight.
“LBJ! LBJ!” chants filled the air, and the warm reception didn’t not escape James, who then called the Manila crowd “un-freakin-believable.”
“I’m happy to be here and to have my final stop of this whole tour to be here. That’s special,” the four-time NBA MVP said after the showcase.
James is in Manila as part of the Nike Rise program where underprivileged kids with exceptional basketball skills were given access to professional training for six weeks at the House of Rise.
The final 12 of Nike Rise was also named on Thursday after grandiose announcement, but all of the 24 players were given a chance to interact with James on the floor.
Some of them got to be on the other end of James’ on-point passes or had to stand in the way of The King as he planned his next move in those brief minutes he spent in the game.
And for everyone of Nike Rise kids, playing in front of thousands including no less than James himself is an experience they would never forget.
“Sobrang saya na maka laro si LeBron na nakikita ng madaming tao. Habang buhay itong nasamin,” Algin Andaya, one of the Nike Rise kids, told INQUIRER.net.
(I’m so happy to be able to play with LeBron in front of all these people. I will forever take this with me.)
That was exactly what the Cleveland Cavaliers star wanted to achieve in his second trip halfway across the world to this basketball-crazed country: to leave a mark.
“More than to teach them skills, it’s the inspiration [that I want to bring.] The stories I can give them, tell them about the game. Then use the words I tell them to better themselves, I think that’s more important,” James said in Thursday’s afternoon press conference.
But those on the court weren’t the only ones who went home abuzz with excitement. Even those seated as far up at the General Admissions section got a glimpses of James’ spellbinding moves.
James, who was wearing a white tee and red LeBron Soldier 9s, rapped, did the “Nae Nae” and danced some more, threw a deep three from his seat the at the bench and made it, and did what he could to enthrall the crowd.
Including saying three special words.
“I love you. I love you guys,” James ended.