As keeper of Sports Illustrated's indispensable Vault, Andy Gray spends a lot of his time sifting through the sports photography of another time, when athletes wore short shorts and facial hair, and everyone looked vaguely uncomfortable. Here is one such photo.
In February 2002, SI put Akron, Ohio, native LeBron James on its cover for the first time and anointed him "The Chosen One." James, a high school junior at the time, was already turning heads and drawing comparisons to Michael Jordan, though I'm confident MJ never posed in a Ohio cornfield. Grant Wahl wrote:
Indeed, while NBA scouts are universal in their praise of LeBron's all-around package—his shooting range, his fluid handle, his disarming explosiveness—their most common comparison is with another breathtaking passer, Magic Johnson. "The most surprising thing is that a guy who could dominate offensively is so unselfish," says one scout. "Most of these young guys don't know how to play, but he looks to make the pass first, and he's great at it."
"If I were a general manager, there are only four or five NBA players that I wouldn't trade to get him right now," says former Phoenix Suns coach Danny Ainge, who was in Trenton to see LeBron play for the second time. "I love Jason Williams at Duke, and I've heard of the Chinese guy [7'6" Yao Ming], but if LeBron came out this year, I wouldn't even have to think about it. I'd take him No. 1."