‘Dude Is So Damn Big’: Grizzlies Rookie Reveals How Guarding LeBron James Was His “Welcome to the NBA” Moment

Published 07/02/2021, 1:59 AM EDT
May 25, 2021; Phoenix, Arizona, USA; Los Angeles Lakers forward LeBron James (23) reacts against the Phoenix Suns during the second half in game two of the first round of the 2021 NBA Playoffs at Phoenix Suns Arena. Mandatory Credit: Mark J. Rebilas-USA TODAY Sports | Courtesy: Reuters


The NBA draft will be held on July 29 with the Detroit Pistons having the first overall pick. As young colts from the NCAA look to the next stage of their careers, it is important to remember that the transition from college basketball to NBA is extremely challenging. One needs to be prepared mentally and physically. While some fail to adapt, others excel while taking on the challenge. One of the prime examples is LeBron James.

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LeBron James had the most pressure for an 18-year-old when he was labeled the next big thing in basketball because of his collegiate basketball brilliance.

However, the pressure did not get to him as he delivered on his NBA debut. LeBron scored 25 points in his debut against the Sacramento Kings and set the record for most points scored by a prep-to-pro player on debut.

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Likewise, LeBron won Rookie of the Year in 2003 over fellow prodigy Carmelo Anthony.

Desmond Bane on his ‘Welcome to the NBA’ moment with LeBron James

Desmond Bane, who was drafted by the Memphis Grizzlies in 2020, spoke about his ‘Welcome to the NBA’ moment. He said:

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“Bron! For sure! Bron! I mean the first time that we played the Lakers. We played the Lakers about, I would say, five games, six games into the season, so it was still early on, I’m getting a feel for things. And we had played I think maybe one playoff team—one or two playoff teams—and, you know, they were coming off a championship and being hungry for another one. I think that that was my real “Welcome to the NBA” moment.

“There was stretches when I guarding LeBron and I was like man, ‘this dude is so damn big.'”

Feb 12, 2021; Los Angeles, California, USA; Los Angeles Lakers forward LeBron James (23) attempts to dunk the ball over Memphis Grizzlies guard Dillon Brooks (24) in the second half at Staples Center. Mandatory Credit: Kirby Lee-USA TODAY Sports

Bane was regarded as a great shooter coming out of college. Bane averaged 9.2 points and 3.1 rebounds in his rookie season. Moreover, he shot 43.2% from beyond the arc, making him a key player in the Grizzlies’ rotation.

He is comparatively big for a guard, standing at 6’5, and proved early on that he could handle the physicality of the league. Hence, Bane made the All-Rookie team in 2020.

It is not shocking that LeBron would be a ‘Welcome to the NBA’ as even at the age of 36, he is more athletic and stronger than most guys in the league. ‘The King’s’ longevity is surprising. Even in his 18th season, he has shown no signs of slowing down before his injury.

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LeBron as a rookie

LeBron James, unsurprisingly, went number 1 overall in the 2003 NBA draft. Cleveland drafted ‘The Chosen One,’ and he made an instant impact.

Even though the Cavs did not make the playoffs that year, their record improved by 18 wins compared to the previous seasons. LeBron averaged 20.9 points, 5.5 rebounds, and almost 6 assists in his rookie year, making him only the third player to average 20/5/5 as a rookie in league history.

He is the only player to win finals MVP with 3 different organizations, coming from his championship with the Lakers and Anthony Davis.

Feb 12, 2021; Los Angeles, California, USA; Los Angeles Lakers forward LeBron James (23) celebrates in the second half against the Memphis Grizzlies at Staples Center. Mandatory Credit: Kirby Lee-USA TODAY Sports

Today, everyone knows the player that he has transcended into. ‘The King’ lived up to all the hype on him since high school.

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He is one of the best players to ever play, if not the best. LeBron is a 4-time league MVP, 4-time Finals MVP, and a 4 time NBA champion.

LeBron proved his doubters wrong every step of the way and continues to do so as he is still the top player in the league. Now the third-highest scorer in league history, ‘The King’ LeBron James continues to solidify his legacy.

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Anuj Talwalkar

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