Originally published in the September 3, 2010 issue
While Bryce Harper was off getting his G.E.D. and playing at some no-name College of South Nevada of the exceedingly unknown Scenic West Athletic Conference, LeBron James and his high school crew of merry men were playing games on ESPN. That’s right, ESPN. Not ESPN the Ocho.
By the time he was eighteen, he had already graced the cover of SLAM Magazine, ESPN the Magazine and Sports Illustrated. He was so popular before his senior year that his high school team had to move practice from the high school gym to a collegiate arena that sat 5,500 people.
Even The Big Aristotle himself, Shaquille O’Neal, showed up to one of the practices.
By then, the nickname of King James had already spread across Ohio, and how could it not?
Three state titles, three Mr. Basketball of Ohio titles and one Gatorade National Player of the Year award later, LeBron was a national darling.
By the time the 2003 NBA Draft rolled along, it was a foregone conclusion that LeBron would go number one, even over National Champion Carmelo Anthony, first team All-American Dwayne Wade and Chris Bosh.
The unjustifiable negativity most sports fans now have for LeBron should not cloud the fact that he was the greatest phenom in sports since Lew Alcindor.
About a decade ago, we were introduced to a high school athlete unlike any other. Due to ESPN and the Internet, a young sophomore was anointed sports’ royalty. Literally.
LeBron aka King James took the basketball and sports worlds by storm.
Even though he has fallen out of favor as of late, you’d be hard pressed to believe he hasn’t lived up to the hype.
Now, the second installment of the high school hype is upon us. Bryce Harper is a manchild.
He was blessed with physical gifts in middle school that sports fans would kill for.
As a 6-foot-3 monster in high school, he terrorized high school hitters so much, he decided he was sick of it and graduated two years early.
Ok maybe that’s not true, but never before has any sport seen a player accomplish so much before his or her 18th birthday.
In his one season in college as a 17 year old, he hit 31 homers in 66 games, which translates to a little more than 76 dingers in 162 games.
In the NJCAA West District Finals, Harper hit 14-18 in three games with six homers and ten RBIs in the title game.
To cap off his short collegiate career he was the second player awarded the Golden Spikes award as the top college baseball player in baseball.