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CC watched LeBron in high school: ‘It was insane’

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In a wide-ranging interview on the Ringer’s BS Podcast on Friday, former All-Star left-hander CC Sabathia discussed the first time he ever saw LeBron James play basketball. Sabathia was pitching in the Indians organization and James was at St. Vincent-St. Mary’s High School in Akron, Ohio.

Lebron James

“I think LeBron might have been in the 10th grade at that time,” Sabathia told podcast host Bill Simmons. “… Our head trainer [with the Indians], Paul Spicuzza, was a high school and AAU referee, and they used to bring all of the top Indians prospects … to Cleveland in January for this thing called Winter Development. … And Paul said, ‘You gotta see this guy play’ … He told me [James’] whole freshman year, ‘You’ve gotta see him play, you’ve gotta see him play.’

“[One day] he said, ‘He’s playing across the street, like right here, we can just walk over there; let’s go see him play.’ So I walked over, went to see [James] play, and he was literally what he is now: a grown man.”

Sabathia spoke of how awe-struck he was at James’ game, adding that “you could just see that he was going to be a superstar at that age … He was gonna be the guy. It was insane to watch him.”

Basketball isn’t the only sport Sabathia was able to see James play in those early years.

“I got to see him play football a couple times,” Sabathia said. “He was a great receiver. He could’ve easily [played in the NFL] if he wanted to. He was fun to watch, and it was fun to be up there at that time in Northeast Ohio watching him do his thing.”

Sabathia also said how much he admires James’ life off the basketball court, citing his community involvement and the importance he places on his family, as well as the difficulty of being in such a bright spotlight as a teenager. Being a professional athlete himself, and also sharing in common with James a childhood in which he was raised by a single mother, Sabathia praised James’ ability to come through on the court and off.

“To me, [James] is the only athlete that was under that much pressure at 15 or 16 years old and delivered,” Sabathia said. “Whatever ‘delivering’ is — won a championship in Cleveland, he’s got three [championship] rings. He’s one of the best players on the planet.

“There’s never been a guy on the cover of Sports Illustrated at that age who has been able to deliver.”

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Rafa Nadal and I have had our differences, but he’s an absolute champion,’ says Nick Kyrgios

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Nick Kyrgios admits that he and Rafa Nadal have ‘had their differences’ over the years but he can’t help but admire his achievements.

Nadal won his 20th Grand Slam crown at Roland Garros earlier this month to draw level with Roger Federer in the history books.

Kyrgios has a bit of a storied past when it comes to spats with Nadal, who he once branded ‘super salty’ whilst accusing him of being a bad loser.

Even he, though, can’t deny the Spaniard has achieved something special.

“I wasn’t surprised when I saw Rafa Nadal pretty much easing his way through the draw at the French Open,” Kyrgios told Courtside Huddle.

“That’s his backyard, he loves playing there and he has only lost two matches in his entire career.

“Honestly, in my opinion I don’t think we are going to see anything like that ever again.

“Somebody so dominant on a surface he’s right there with the greatest of all time. You can argue that he is the greatest.’

“You look at Federer, he’s the most dominant player of all time, but in this era it’s actually Rafa. It’s a debate you can have.”

“We had our differences when we played each other. We’re fiery, we’re competitors and are going to go after each other.

“But at the same time I am not going to take anything away from him . He’s an absolute champion and 20 Grand Slam is ridiculous and I don’t think we are ever going to see that again.”

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