CLEVELAND — The last time the NBA All-Star Weekend festivities came to Cleveland was 25 years ago. NBA superstar and Akron native LeBron James was just 12 years old and already had a passion for the game. Now that the event has made it's way back to his hometown, with him leading a team in the All-Star Game, James took a moment to reflect on how special this moment actually is for himself, and for the city.
"I wish I had the means and the ability to come up to Cleveland and just feel that energy and hopefully bump into one of those guys. I had so many dreams of being an All-Star as a kid growing up in Akron," James said.
Those dreams have more than come to fruition for James, who is making his 18th All-Star appearance after a career that has set him in the upper echelon of all-time athletes, but now, he gets to participate in the All-Star activities in his hometown for the first time in his career.
Despite playing in Los Angeles right now, James still has a love and appreciation for all things Cleveland sports, just like he did when he was a kid dreaming of this moment.
"Having a team that was 35 minutes north of us, even though as much as I loved MJ [Michael Jordan] and loved the Bulls, just having that inspiration, having pro teams right up 77 north, you know?" James said. "Having the Browns and the Indians at the time, now Guardians, having the Cavaliers—I remember when they was playing closer in Richfield, I remember that."
At his 18th NBA All-Star Game, James, the man who has experienced nearly everything there is to experience in the NBA, is still in awe of how his journey led him to this very moment.
"To sit here 25 years later doing what I love to do, dreaming about what I love to do, believing in what I wanted to be—it's just unbelievable," James said.
The kid from Akron couldn't be more proud to have his hometown in the spotlight with the events, and the players representing it this weekend.
"Cleveland is very deserving of this platform and this moment. They've got two All-Stars of their own in the game in DG [Darius Garland] and big fella Jarrett Allen—and they got another guy in the All-Star, and that's me," he said.
Proud, but also excited for what's to come, James could only end his reflection with the words of Gunna, who just so happens to be performing in Cleveland for All-Star Weekend.
"It's great man, I'm pushin' P, capital P, that's what I'm doing," James said.
Camryn Justice is a digital content producer at News 5 Cleveland. Follow her on Twitter @camijustice.
Download the News 5 Cleveland app now for more stories from us, plus alerts on major news, the latest weather forecast, traffic information and much more. Download now on your Apple device here, and your Android device here.
You can also catch News 5 Cleveland on Roku, Apple TV, Amazon Fire TV, YouTube TV, DIRECTV NOW, Hulu Live and more. We're also on Amazon Alexa devices. Learn more about our streaming options here.