LeBron James’ Nike World Tour rolled into Akron last night, shutting down South Main Street for an exclusive showing of More Than a Game, a new documentary about the Cavaliers’ star forward’s rise to fame with Akron’s top-ranked St. Vincent-St. Mary High School basketball team.

  • Jeff Niesel
James attended the screening along with New Orleans’ Hornets point guard Chris Paul and four of the “fab five” players from the school’s national championship team. Coach Dru Joyce and director Kris Belman were also present. While a thunderstorm made the red carpets outside the Akron Civic Theatre soggy and forced the St. Vincent-St. Mary High School marching band to take cover indoors, it didn’t deter James and crew from walking through the theater’s front entrance, and they stopped to take a few questions and make a couple of comments along the way.

“I hope the film creates an awareness to kids,” James said to a group of reporters. “They are our future, of course.”

Belman spoke about how proud he was to return to Akron with a feature-length film. “It means everything in the world to me to bring the film to Akron,” he said, adding that he still had the stub from his plane ticket he bought eight years ago when he flew to Los Angeles to pursue his dream of becoming a filmmaker.

The movie documents how James and a group of inner-city kids who used to practice on a linoleum floor gym at a Salvation Army managed to put Akron on the basketball map. Belman, who spent eight years making the film, delved into the backgrounds of each of the players in the “fab five” and compiled an extensive collection of never-before-seen footage that includes home movies and locker-room meetings. Slated to hit theaters on October 2, the movie will show at subsequent Nike tour stops in China and Europe before returning to the states to visit New York and Los Angeles.

After the screening, James, Joyce, Kelman and four of the “fab five” answered questions from the audience. Perhaps the toughest question came from a 17-year-old kid who asked LeBron if he was wearing his V-neck striped shirt because he “lost a bet.” And for a minute, the King was speechless. “I’ll get you back later,” he said with a laugh. — Jeff Niesel

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