Although different sports, athletes LeBron James and Jeff Skinner have a lot on common. Both were drafted out of high school at 18 years old. James was drafted #1 by the Cleveland Cavaliers in 2003 while Skinner was drafted by the Carolina Hurricanes in 2010 in the first round, seventh overall. They were both named Rookie of the Year in their first pro season. The award also dubbed them the youngest player to receive the honor in their sport. They both donned a shade of red hitting the professional scene. They both brought enthusiasm to teams that craved a championship. However, is that where their differences end?
James led his team to the playoffs 2006 through 2010. He claimed NBA Most Valuable Player in 2008–09 and 2009–10. In the Olympics, he won bronze in 2004 and gold in 2008. He continues to be ranked as a top contender in the NBA.
Skinner is a few years behind James, but his potential is in line with the history-making basketball forward. The Hurricanes winger is forecasted to rival the performance of previous Calder Trophy winners Alexander Ovechkin and Patrick Kane. The two questions are 1) Will Skinner be as decorated as LeBron and 2) Will Skinner break Caniacs’ hearts.
LeBron James was compared to Michael Jordan in his early years, but Skinner is rarely compared to being the next Wayne Gretzky. This next season proves imperative for the Ontario native. Skinner is beloved by his Hurricane supporters, but does that mean they will not burn his jersey in Raleigh as Clevelanders did to LeBron if the young phenomenon parts with the Canes after his 3-year contract?
Many questions swirl around the Carolina’s forward, but many things are certain. Jeff Skinner has an unparallel work ethic and faithful organization that will take him to new heights.
Personal note: As someone who drove past the LeBron mural draped along a popular office building in downtown Cleveland many times, I understand the pride and faith fans place upon an athlete’s shoulders. Carrying that burden cannot be an easy task. Even though I understand that burden, I no longer support James. He took the hearts of Cavs fans and crushed them with his trademark Nike shoes. I do not wish that heavy responsibility upon Jeff Skinner. Nor will I never turn a cold shoulder against the young hockey player as his humbleness and talent will forever fill my heart.