LeBron James to play in Palestra showcase
Two-time MVP joins Carmelo Anthony, Kevin Durant and Chris Paul in star-studded event.
September 12, 2011, 9:32 pm · Updated September 13, 2011, 11:30 pm·
Brian Kotloff | DP
The King is coming to the Cathedral.
Two-time NBA MVP LeBron James will join fellow superstars Kevin Durant, Chris Paul and Carmelo Anthony in a Team Philly-Team Melo exhibition game at the Palestra on Sept. 25, according to a report by The Philadelphia Inquirer.
“When we jump the ball that day, I think everybody in Philadelphia and the tri-state area will hear the quaking coming out of the Palestra,” said Rahim Thompson, organizer of the event and founder of the Philadelphia-based Chosen League.
The inclusion of James and Paul comes as a surprise, given the initial ESPN report about the rumored game. That article quoted Phoenix Suns forward Hakim Warrick, who helped plan the event, as saying Anthony would probably only bring along fellow Baltimore/Washington natives — and not James and Paul, who hail from Akron, Ohio, and Lewisville, N.C., respectively.
And while Durant is indeed a Washington native, his addition to Team Melo’s roster should also raise eyebrows — and expectations. The two-time defending scoring champion single-handedly stole the summer basketball scene after scoring 125 points over the course of two games at New York’s Rucker Park and against James at the Goodman League-Team Melo game.
The prospect of having this supremely talented trio join Anthony will easily make this exhibition the most highly anticipated basketball game in the world over the next two weeks.
The reports have not been made officially, and Thompson would only confirm that “Carmelo and his friends will be there.”
That said, the game will feature a number of other NBA players representing the rivaling basketball hotbeds.
Team Philadelphia will include Warrick, Philadelphia 76ers’ point guard Lou Williams, former Villanova standout Kyle Lowry, John Salmons, Markieff Morris, Marcus Morris and Wayne Ellington, to go along with former NBA player Ronald “Flip” Murray and Philly streetball legend Aaron “A.O.” Owens
Suiting up alongside Anthony’s super-trio of James, Durant and Paul will be NBA players Josh Selby, Gary Neal, Eric Bledsoe and Donte Greene.
According to Thompson’s Twitter account, seats in Section 100 will cost $50, while those in Section 200 will be sold for $35.
The game — which figures to sell out in hours, not days — will likely provide an enormous boost to the reputation of Penn’s basketball program and the Palestra itself, which is also known as “The Cathedral of College Basketball.”
And according to Thompson, “this game would not have happened” at the Palestra were it not for Jerome Allen, the man who stands at the helm of the Quakers’ program.
Allen, a Philly native who put Penn basketball in the national spotlight as a player in the 1990s before going pro, introduced Thompson “to the right people so [they] could make this event go off.”
“[Allen] understands the history of Philadelphia basketball and what this game would do,” Thompson emphasized. “This might be one of the biggest games ever in the history of Philadelphia basketball.”
The efforts made by Allen will not likely go unnoticed.
“Penn basketball and the Palestra are already nationally known, and now after this game, it should be even better, especially with the renovations that happened,” Thompson explained. “Any recruits looking, this game itself should tell you how involved, how committed to basketball Penn is.”
With the NBA’s players and owners still locked out, this exhibition will be tantamount to the League’s annual All-Star Game, with can’t-miss highlights that celebrate the amazing talent currently on display in the world.
It certainly will be a sight to behold to have those world-class athletes running up and down the court of what Thompson calls “the most historic arena in the world.”
This article has been changed from its original version to reflect that tickets will not go on sale beginning at 9 a.m. on Tuesday at the Palestra or online, but at 3 p.m. Tuesday at PennAthletics.com.