The night a young LeBron James brought Jay Z to his feet
The future NBA star took MVP honors and had some dunks to remember in the 2003 McDonald’s All-American Game
In one of the final games of his high school basketball career, LeBron James put on a dazzling show with a 27-point, seven-assist and seven-rebound MVP performance in the McDonald’s All-American Game.
The St. Vincent-St. Mary prodigy lifted the East team, which was essentially playing in James’ backyard at Gund Arena in Cleveland, to a convincing 122-107 victory over the West on March 26, 2003.
A crowd of 18,728 packed the 20,562-seat venue to see the Akron, Ohio, native play in his final amateur game in his home state.
The East took a 60-51 lead into halftime, thanks to James’ 10 points and five assists in the first half. A handful of dunks brought rapper Jay Z and Cleveland Cavaliers rookie Dajuan Wagner to their feet and elicited a rousing round of applause from the crowd.
“Early in the game I wanted to get my teammates involved,” James told USA Today. “Once they [were] in the flow of the game, they told me to take over and shoot more. The best of the best talent like this brings out the best in me.”
Before the game, James was recognized as the top scholar-athlete when he was awarded the Morgan Wootten Award. The senior forward was also named the boys’ Naismith Player of the Year.
“He’s as dominant a player I’ve seen since Oscar Robertson,” former UCLA coach John Wooden, the McDonald’s game chairman, told USA Today.
A few months later, the Cavaliers made James the top overall selection in the 2003 NBA draft.