Tight jersey, LeBron. (AP/Aaron Favila)
On Tuesday, we shared with you the amusing note that a young man named Kobe dunked over LeBron James during a Nike-sponsored event in Manila that brought the Miami Heat superstar to the basketball-mad Philippines for the first time. In the midst of sharing that brief goof, we also noted that LeBron took part in an exhibition scrimmage between Gilas Pilipinas, the Philippines national basketball team, and a select squad of Filipino college players "coached" by James.
We showed you the four-time NBA Most Valuable Player coming off the bench to don a jersey and run with the Filipino ballplayers, nailing a couple of deep 3-pointers, throwing down a monster alley-oop dunk and setting up the scrimmagers for buckets of their own. We did not show you the apparently thrilling conclusion of the contest, which Gilas won, 29-27, "after James missed a potential game-tying lay-up in the dying seconds," according to Camille B. Naredo of ABS-CBNnews.com. (That sound you heard was the rumbling of long-dormant naysayers buried deep underground, stirring up their blood-curdling "NOT CLUTCH" cries.)
So, LeBron, you blew it. You're distraught and ashamed. We get it. But what do you have to say for yourself? From Naredo:
“The reason I missed those last two shots is because my jersey is too damn small, so forgive me,” said James, who also thrilled the crowd by throwing signed basketballs to the stands.
Given how rabid Filipino fans are for basketball — die-hards might remember how much attendees loved the all-star exhibition put on there by a number of NBA players during the 2011 lockout — and James' status as Nike's preeminent pitchman, it's kind of surprising that this was LeBron's first trip to the Southeast Asian island nation. But he said he knew what to expect on arrival after a brief consultation with a Filipino American colleague, according to Ryan Songalia of USA TODAY Sports:
"My head coach Eric Spoelstra told me all about it," James said [...] "It's just a great culture that is very passionate about what they love and what they believe in."
That much was evident in the outpouring of support shown James upon his arrival and throughout the "#WitnessHistory" event. I wouldn't hold out too much hope for the Filipino faithful "believing in" that excuse for missing a layup, though; you'll probably need more people for that one.
Hat-tip to SLAM.
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- LeBron James
- Gilas Pilipinas