LeBron James, fresh off another NBA championship with the Miami Heat, showed his popularity reaches far beyond the shores of the United States during a Nike tour stop in the Philippines. He's nothing short of a global sensation.
The stop in Manila showcased the amazing fanbase James has built around the globe. Along with his success in the NBA, his vital role in helping lead the United States to consecutive gold medals in the Olympics has helped make him an international superstar.
Ryan Songalia, in a special report for USA Today, stated fans camped out for two days in order to receive tickets to watch James run a basketball clinic with the Philippine national team. They just wanted a chance to see him in action.
"I'm so happy I got to witness LeBron," said Joven Jimenez, 41, who waited in line for 18 hours to get a ticket in the nosebleed section. "I feel like LeBron is a super hero; he is a monster."
While James' greatness can often get lost stateside, where fans have watched him transform from a high school sensation with plenty of hype into a proven champion, that certainly wasn't the case in the Philippines. They were desperate to become "witnesses."
The real treat for the fans who waited for tickets came during the clinic's scrimmage, when James transitioned from his role as coach of a college team to player.
He took the court after some time off to enjoy his latest championship triumph, making a couple highlight-reel plays to please those in attendance.
Even with the added firepower of the four-time Most Valuable Player, James' team found itself trailing late in the scrimmage. Then, according to the USA Today report, he missed two game-tying opportunities late in the contest.
He provided a simple explanation:
James' team still lost 29-27, missing two shots at the end of regulation to tie the game. James offered the following explanation: "The reason why I missed those last two shots because my jersey's too damn small, forgive me."
In the past, before James proved himself as a champion on both the NBA and international levels, missing two game-tying shots in a meaningless exhibition game would have been an over-hyped story. Now, it's rightfully a non-story. He was just having fun and giving fans what they waited to see.
James has to enjoy those moments. Before long, the tour will end, and the road to another championship will begin. It's safe to say the atmosphere in opposing arenas during the team's three-peat quest won't be as supportive as his stop in the Philippines.
The last few years have provided many tests for James, and he's passed them all. That's why he's a superstar from the United States to the Philippines and beyond.
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