By Perry Green and Stephen D. Riley, AFRO Sports Desk

LeBron James has made a professional NBA team debut three times and counting in his now 15-year career. Despite an 0-3 record in team debuts, James has impressed each time he took the court. The ultimate team player, James can’t help but attract star attention whenever he premieres for a team for a team, but which debut was his best? Perry Green and Stephen D. Riley, of the AFRO Sports Desk, debates.

Los Angeles Lakers’ LeBron James (23) drives to the basket as Houston Rockets’ Eric Gordon (10) defends during the first half of an NBA basketball game Saturday, Oct. 20, 2018, in Los Angeles. (AP Photo/Marcio Jose Sanchez)

Riley: Nothing compares to James’ rookie debut with the Cavaliers when he lit up the Sacramento Kings with 25 points, nine assists, six rebounds and four steals. With all the drama and hype leading up to that moment, James starred as a then-18-year-old. Debuts in Miami and Los Angeles were impressive, but his opener against Sacramento was legendary. We weren’t sure about LeBron as a professional up until that point. We knew he dominated high school but there was still some doubt about his pro career. He answered our concerns and became a legend all in the same debut.

Green: From a franchise perspective, LeBron’s debut as a Laker is his best to date. The Lakers have been complete trash even before Kobe Bryant retired, so for the remnants of the team to go from garbage time just a season ago to prime time this year speaks for itself. James dropped 26 points, 12 rebounds and six assists in his Lakers’ unveiling and 24 points to go with five rebounds and five assists in  TThe home opener. The totals weren’t great, but the energytheta he fed his team and the renewed interest in Laker basketball was easily deeper than anything Cleveland or Miami could present.

Riley: From High School to the pros, there will never be another premiere like James’ first ever game in the league. We’ve become accustomed to James’ greatness so even his appearances for Miami and L.A. had a bit of the ho-hum feel simply because we’ve seen him be great before. But we hadn’t seen him perform before on a big stage until his first appearance in the league. We’ve been spoiled by James’ greatness over his seasons in the NBA but prior to his league premiere, we were just regular fans sitting on our hands waiting to see if this was real or not. Once we realized it was real then new stops in Miami and Cleveland didn’t move us quite the same. It only made fans more demanding despite James’ normal routine greatness. The original is always the best and James’ first ever debut still holds as his best ever.

Green: People typically have strong cases of nostalgia when it comes to originals no matter how good the sequels are. The caliber of player that LeBron is simply belongs in Hollywood and regardless of sentimental value, there’s serious relative value in his Laker debut. If the Dallas Cowboys are America’s Team then the Lakers have to be basketball’s version, and the best player in the NBA just opened his first game for them. Regular season games will mean more than they ever have. Playoff games will have more impact and championships will possess more meaning. Everything LeBron does from here on out will be magnified more than it ever has simply because he’s donning the purple and gold. LeBron’s career never mattered more than it does now.

Perry Green and Stephen D. Riley

AFRO Sports Desk