Four-time National Basketball Association (NBA) Most Valuable Player LeBron James of the Miami Heat made an assurance that his first visit in Manila won’t be his last.
“Mabuhay Philippines,” said the 28-year-old James on his first public appearance at the Shangri-La Hotel in Makati City on Tuesday.
“Can’t believe it’s my first time here. I understand how huge basketball here but definitely this is not going to be my last time here,” he added.
James said Filipino-American Miami Heat head coach Erik Spoelstra kept him attuned to the Philippine culture including how the Filipinos truly love basketball.
“He [Spoelstra] said it’s a great country and people are passionate about what they love and what they believe in. It’s very exciting to be part of such basketball culture,” narrated James.
The two-time NBA champion also shared his experience in winning those championships titles highlighted by the Miami Heat’s 4-3 demolition of the San Antonio Spurs in the best-of-seven championship series recently.
“The two championship runs were emotionally draining because you go from one series to the next. The next game to the other game. A playoff game is five times more difficult than the regular season,” said James.
“And this year, I was up the whole time, I knew the hard work and how well they played, but I’m just glad we were able to accomplish the goal,” he said.
James is in town for his “Witness History” tour arranged by Nike Philippines for fans.
The tour made stops at the Nike Park store in Taguig City and at the Mall of Asia Arena in Pasay City.
For starters, Lebron won MVP titles in 2009, 2010, 2012 and 2013, and a couple of Finals MVP in 2012 and 2013.
He was also a member of the NBA All-Star team from 2005
to 2013, and received NBA All-Star Game MVP awards in 2006 and 2008.
James was a scoring champion in 2008 and was hailed as Sportsman of the Year by Sports Illustrated in 2012. He was the Athlete of the Year of the Sporting News group also last year.
Before playing for Miami, James saw action for Cleveland Cavaliers from 2003 to 2010.
He was also part of the US dream team that won gold medals in the 2012 London Olympic Games and 2008 Beijing Games.