Photo: Maddie Meyer (Getty Images)

As we wait out the formality that these lopsided, nightmarish NBA Finals have become, it’s still worth acknowledging just how impressive it is that LeBron James has carried such a messed up, broken Cavs team through the Eastern Conference. With a supporting cast of old three-point specialists, active saboteurs, horny big men, European projects, and Kevin Love, LeBron shoulders the massive burden like a possum carrying its young:

The Wall Street Journal has a very good read today on LeBron as a team player, tracing his selflessness all the way back to the 1993 season of an Akron team called the Summit Lake Hornets. What stands out in particular is the story of the somewhat whimsically named Sonny Spoon, a scrawny seven-year-old twelfth, uh, “man,” on that team, who picked up a bucket late in the season because LeBron already knew how to play with the less athletically gifted:

“At 9 years old,” Reed said, “he knew how to pass to 7-year-olds without knocking them down.”

One of those boys, Sonny Spoon, was too young for the league and sat on the Hornets’ bench only because his dad was a team manager. He was such a pipsqueak that it was actually a problem for his teammates.

“Nobody could pass him the ball without him falling over,” McGee said.

LeBron James could. In one of the last games of his first season, James took it upon himself to make sure the smallest guy on the team scored. The only way to get his teammate a bucket was to get creative. “He rolled him the ball on the ground,” McGee said. Sonny Spoon picked up the pass from LeBron James and took a shot with all his might. When the ball went in, James got the assist.

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Just change the “7” to a “32” and you might as well start calling George Hill “Sonny.”

[The Wall Street Journal]