That'd be Kobe Paras, the 15-year-old son of former two-time Philippine Basketball Association Most Valuable Player Benjie Paras, who went up, over and around a not-really-contesting LeBron James during the four-time NBA MVP's visit to Manila for a one-day Nike-sponsored event in the basketball-mad Philippines. Given how unlikely it is that we'll see the other Kobe dunk over/around/near LeBron anytime soon, Jim Buss wagers aside, we should probably savor this one.
Young Kobe helped the Philippines' under-18 national basketball team win a FIBA Asia 3x3 championship back in May, which is pretty neat, but probably not as neat as dunking over/around/in the vicinity of the best player in the world during layup lines. Here's hoping he goes on to have at least as entertaining a basketball career as the last unheralded youngster to dunk over LeBron in a summertime setting.
Jokes aside, it was cool of LeBron to provide token resistance for the young players as they drove to the basket during the event, which included the sort of fireworks and pageantry you'd expect from a Nike promotional event, an hourlong LeBron-led clinic and a scrimmage featuring the Philippines national team and select players from Manila's college basketball league. At one point late in the scrimmage, LeBron decided to come off the sidelines and get involved, which led the fans packing the Mall of Asia Arena to freak out. Hit the jump for some video of LeBron giving the people what they want:
Some Filipino fans wanted an up-close-and-personal glimpse of the Miami Heat star badly enough to go to pretty extreme measures, according to AFP:
Manila businessman Franco Miguel, 32, said he and a friend took turns standing in line last week outside a US sporting apparel shop that had announced it was giving away free tickets to the clinic.
"Seeing LeBron James, my God! Even though I fell in line for two days, to see him personally is huge," Miguel told AFP. [...]
Government clerk Ian Castillo watched the clinic with his eight-year-old son, having gone on leave from work since last week to line up for tickets.
"My friends and I were in line for three days. We organised a relay system so others could go home and grab a few hours' sleep," said Castillo, who was seated high in the bleachers.
Given that sort of commitment, I hope the fans in attendance got a lasting memory out of LeBron's one-day visit. I think it's pretty safe to say that young Kobe Paras did.
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- LeBron James