Duquesne coaches share what makes LeBron James special

‘I’m proud of what he’s done on the court, but I’m prouder of the man he is’
LeBron James and his family
Photo credit Gary A. Vasquez-USA TODAY Sports

PITTSBURGH (93.7 The Fan) – He praised LeBron James for his role in getting him to 500 wins Wednesday night. Duquesne head coach Keith Dambrot has talked fondly of his time coaching the NBA’s all-time leading scorer in high school in Ohio. So, what was his reaction when LeBron hit the fade away to break the record Tuesday night.

“You want the truth,” Dambrot said. “I knew he was going to get it (Tuesday) because Bron wouldn’t have asked Dukes assistant coach and James high school teammate Dru Joyce to come if he wasn’t going to get it. Quite honestly, I get up at five in the morning, I wasn’t watching the game because I knew he was going to get it anyway.”

“My wife woke me up and told me he broke the record.”

Dambrot said James is a special human being. What really does stand out about LeBron is the lack of dirt. No bad stories, no scandals, nothing. Not even from those who make a living on social media digging up issues can find anything wrong.

“He’s exactly how he was when he was 13 years-old, just a more grown up version,” Dambrot said. “He’s always been the same. He’s been a great teammate, fun to be around, very bright, caring. He would come to my son’s Little League baseball games. This was after he was drafted. Who does that? He would do his homework even when he didn’t have to.”

“His heart,” Joyce said of his old teammate as LeBron flew several of them out to be with him at the Lakers game on Tuesday. “His willingness to give his time, his effort, his money.”

“I don’t know if any of you have been around the Akron area, but what he is doing there is something special. He’s building a community within a city-housing, school, medical, jobs-it’s unbelievable. It’s almost going to be separate from Akron pretty soon, he’s going to create his own city.”

“Those kids that he has in that program are a reflection of him, that’s who he was and that’s why he puts his heart into it.”

“He never forgets people who have helped him,” Dambrot said. “I think he gets it from his mother. She’s got a reputation, but she’s an unbelievable woman. She’s really just like him. She really appreciates people who have helped. She did an unbelievable job of getting him around the right people when she couldn’t take care of him by herself when her mother passed because she was really young when she had LeBron.”

And Dambrot was right, James sent the 500-win coach a message on congratulations just days after he became the points leader in the NBA.

You probably know the stories of Shaq going to one of his high school games and the pressure of being ‘The Chosen One’.
Yet unlike many who have similar attention on them, LeBron not only handled it, but somehow exceeded expectations.

“The pressure of basketball, he never thought that was pressure,” Joyce said. “Pressure was how he grew up. That’s what was nerve-racking for him. If his mom was going to come home that night or where he was going to lay his head? Things like that was a whole different type of pressure.”

“When it came to basketball it was free for him. It was a place where he could free himself of any worries, anything that happened in his day and just have fun. Once he got good at the sport, he always understood if he put the work in. He would be ok. That’s how he handled the pressure or didn’t feel it at times.”

Dambrot said there may have been a time where he felt the pressure. His first year in Miami. After making ‘The Decision’ and leaving Cleveland to ‘take his talents to South Beach’, it was the first time in his life he wasn’t liked. But Dambrot said he went back to basics and found himself again after that season.

“They’ll never be another player like him,” Dambrot said praising him for his coachability. “He loves the game. He’s an unbelievable teammate. He plays the right way. If you don’t love it you can’t play 20 years.”

Joyce was around LeBron and his family after setting the record on Tuesday. He said with LeBron it is always about doing the next thing, the next title, the next record, but said this moment was different. For the first time since Joyce knew him, LeBron took it all in and appreciated what he accomplished.

Dambrot said there will never be another player like him. There will be great players, but not great at everything like James is and that doesn’t stop at playing the game.

“I’m proud of what he’s done on the court, but I’m prouder of the man he is,” Dambrot said. “He’s a great human being.”

Featured Image Photo Credit: Gary A. Vasquez-USA TODAY Sports