While Ben Simmons was still in high school, LeBron James gave the Sixers rookie some words of encouragement that stuck with him until this day.

LeBron told a 17-year-old Simmons, “You have an opportunity to be better than me.”

Sports Illustrated‘s Lee Jenkins recreates the scene:

 At 17, perched on the side of a high school gym in Las Vegas after a session at the LeBron James Skills Academy, [Simmons] felt a meaty palm on his shoulder.


“Tomorrow morning,” James told him, “6:30.” Simmons was dressed by four. […]


“You have an opportunity,” James told Simmons early on, “to be better than me. But you can’t skip steps. You have to do the work.”

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