Kobe vs LeBron: Paras ‘blessed’ to share court with James again
LeBron James gave the fans what they wanted as he flashed his freakish athleticism, throwing down dunk after dunk in the grandiose culmination of the Nike Rise at Mall of Asia Arena.
But James wasn’t the only one who put on an aerial show Thursday night. Filipino teen sensation Kobe Paras showed he could fly as well.
“It was crazy,” said a wide-eyed Paras. “Seeing him again and going up against him, he’s really my idol. Feeling the excitement and the fans, it was really crazy.”
“We were just having fun. It was for the people, the fans and especially to the Rise kids. We just wanted everyone to have a good time and hopefully we did,” said Paras, who was also a crowd-favorite.
Paras shared the court with James before two years ago during the two-time NBA champion’s Witness History Tour when he first visited Manila.
It was then when Paras dunked on an unsuspecting James during the layup lines and a video of it went viral.
Two years later at the same venue, Paras and James engaged in a virtual dunkoff.
The 17-year-old UCLA-recruit was still overwhelmed even if it was the second time around seeing the four-time NBA MVP.
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“I was starstruck when he was on stage. I was like ‘wow, it’s really LeBron, he’s really here.’ I’m just really blessed that I was given the opportunity to stay here and be a part of this awesome program,” said Paras.
“I’m really happy because no one gets this opportunity every day, no one gets to have what I have so I’m really blessed that this happened,” he added.
The slam-dunking Paras said James has been one of his inspirations growing up and as he continues to aim for his ultimate goal of becoming the first Filipino to make the NBA.
“I’ve been looking up to him since he was in his rookie year. He was in high school and from high school he just went straight to the pros. Just seeing him really wowed me. His first year he was Rookie of the Year so it was pretty amazing seeing his story. There were a lot of people who doubted him, who hated him, just seeing him rise above everyone is cool.”