Every All-Star’s unique tie to LeBron James

  • ESPN.com NBA writer since 2010
  • Covered Cleveland Cavs for seven years
  • Author of two books

During his rookie year in the NBA, a teenage LeBron James handled unprecedented attention and endless microphones with poise and aplomb. Except for that one time.

When he was bypassed for the 2004 All-Star Game in Los Angeles — partially because of rookie hazing, partially because of the Cleveland Cavaliers’ losing record — James took it personally and lashed out to the point where he showed a rare moment of immaturity.

“I don’t come second,” James snapped when asked if he was holding out hope to be an injury replacement that year. “I’m an only child and I never want to be picked second.”

Only James knows exactly why he rejected multiple overtures from the league and sponsors to take part in the slam dunk contest that year — the event’s title sponsor, Sprite, was one of James’ main partners — but the snub almost certainly played a role.

“Still kinda irks me a little bit,” James said with a smile last week.

This weekend will be James’ 17th consecutive All-Star start, the longest such streak in history. Over the years, All-Star Weekends have become exhausting for James, as he has balanced a schedule loaded with charity work, sponsor demands, social events, player’s union responsibilities and some basketball.

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