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Cleveland Cavaliers superstar LeBron James is, with all intents and purposes, the greatest basketball player on the planet. Capable of doing things that few can, James has had the vision, strength, power and speed of an assumed future Hall of Famer since his high school days, when he was even featured on ESPN as a teenager—which was unprecedented at the time.
After snagging the cover of Sports Illustrated as a sophomore — with the title reading, "The Chosen One" — it was clear that LeBron was on more than just the national radar, becoming bigger than anyone his age had before or since.
Remembering all of that, it's pretty remarkable that the now 32-year-old James didn't flame out early on in his career like other straight-from-high-school players did, far exceeding the expectations thrust on him by media members.
Even more remarkable, LeBron James — who grew up in low-income housing near Cleveland — turned down a $10 million check from then-Reebok CEO Paul Fireman, according to Uninterrupted:
To paraphrase from The Score:
James recounted how then-Reebok CEO Paul Fireman offered to write him a $10-million check on the spot if he agreed not to talk to Nike or Adidas.
"I flew in from Akron, Ohio, from Spring Hill, from the projects. Our rent was like $17 a month," James said. "And now I'm looking at a $10-million check ... that I can leave with and go back to high school the next day. I was going to homeroom the next morning. So I'm like 'holy shit'."
James thought twice.
"But if he's willing to give me a $10-million check right now, what is to say that Nike or Adidas isn't willing to give me 20 or 30 upfront," he said. "Or to say that maybe the upfront money isn't the biggest thing. You know, maybe let's start thinking about the back end."
In the end, LeBron James' decision to wait and leave the easy cash upfront paid off... handsomely. Not long after his meeting with Reebok, James inked an insane $90 million deal with Nike, which, looking at that choice today, seems to have worked out well for him.
Still, how good would a $10 million check in your face be? I would've probably given into the temptation.
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Lead image via Getty.