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When LeBron Met Ovechkin

Tonight's Wizards game was one of the better sporting events I've seen in this city when you consider what came before: three straight playoff losses, two at half-strength, all contentious, all bitter and crushing, and now the Wiz with one of the worst records in the league and the Cavs with one of the best, and the Wiz finally at full-strength, and the arena at least hinting in the direction of passion. It meant nothing, but it will be hard to forget.

I was getting ready to go into the Wizards locker room when I was told Alex Ovechkin would meet LeBron James in the other direction, and so I switched directions too. Because the Wizards will win more games and have more feel-good moments, but it's a pretty rare thing to watch two of the greatest athletes in the world meet for the first time.

So we all stood in the hallway: Ted Leonsis, Alex Ovechkin, Nicklas Backstrom, a bunch of LeBron's people, a few other media folks. The entire Cavs team came through, with some, like Zydrunas Ilgauskas, stopping to chat with Ovechkin. The hockey star and LeBron's manager, Maverick Carter, talked about cars (LeBron has 12), and speed limits, and training regimens, and Verizon Center food (Ovechkin had two orders of nachos). Carter praised Ovechkin's hot stick celebration; "I do like NBA," Ovechkin joked.

Then we all went into the Cavs locker room. I guess I'll just post the dialog, though there will be video out there at some point.

LeBron: What's going on sir, what's going on?

Leonsis: I'm Ted Leonsis, nice to see you. This is Alex Ovechkin.

LeBron: What's up Prime Time? What's going on, man?

Leonsis: This is Nicklas Backstrom.

LeBron: Aight, how you doing, good.

Leonsis: Nicklas is a young star in the league, and [Ovechkin] the MVP.

Maverick: He did the hottest celebration in hockey, the hot stick.

LeBron: Yeah. He's a bad boy. God....I don't know how you guys do that [stuff], sliding on ice and still hit the [dang] puck? Whooo.

Leonsis: Ever been to a game?

LeBron: Nah, I aint' never been to one. I heard they're amazing, though, I heard they're amazing.

Leonsis: I'll have to take you to a playoff game sometime.

LeBron: Absolutely.

Leonsis: Alex is gonna give you a jersey.

LeBron: I feel bad, I feel bad.

Leonsis: No, you can send him one.

LeBron: Ok. I feel like [a jerk] now. I ain't got nothing to give. I like this. I see. Appreciate it.

Someone suggested that LeBron hand over his white jacket to Alex. LeBron seemed to consider the idea. Then they all posed for photos, and walked out, talking to each other.

Look, I've been jaded plenty of times in my career, but this wasn't a bad assignment. I've also seen plenty of athletes meet people they aren't really interested in meeting. This wasn't one of those times. Maybe I'll write about the actual Wizards game later.

By Dan Steinberg  |  April 3, 2009; 12:35 AM ET
Categories:  Caps , NBA  
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Next: LeBron and Ovechkin, the Video


Dang, I had worked hard to work up a dislike to Lebron, now this has to come and make him appear to be a fairly decent individual.

Of course stories like this fills me with joy -- finally seeing hockey breaking out here in the nation's capital and it's thanks to Alex Ovechkin. With large kudos to Teddy L, Backstrom, Green, Boudreau, so much to be excited about.

Posted by: Liebercreep | April 3, 2009 12:51 AM | Report abuse

Naw, this confirms LeBron's D-Baggery.....c'mon dude, take your glasses off when posing for a photo.

Posted by: truthaboutit | April 3, 2009 1:47 AM | Report abuse

Why is Leonsis being so nice to LeBron?!? Not cool!

Posted by: Barno1 | April 3, 2009 1:58 AM | Report abuse

So... did Alex Ovechkin or Nicklas Backstrom get to speak?

Posted by: sitruc | April 3, 2009 2:33 AM | Report abuse

Hmmm...maybe Slick Teddy's planting a little seed in LJ's mind for 2010? He does still own part of Les Boulez.

Hey, like KG said (or screamed), anything is possible.

Posted by: nittanybruin | April 3, 2009 7:03 AM | Report abuse

Wow, this suddenly makes me like LeBron a little more. I've hated him cause every year he and the Cavs would beat the Wizards... but after seeing this.. I like him a little more.

LeBron should come to a game, and he will become a Caps fan. That would be the weirdest/coolest thing ever.

Posted by: rachel216 | April 3, 2009 7:30 AM | Report abuse

Needs more Namoff.

Posted by: Section117 | April 3, 2009 7:40 AM | Report abuse

Nothin' for nothin', but don't you think Ovechkin and the Caps could've afforded to give LeBron an authentic jersey rather than just a replica? I mean, c'mon...

Posted by: StikSav | April 3, 2009 8:03 AM | Report abuse

This makes perfect sense. Cleveland doesn't have an NHL franchise. We know LeBron is willing to visibly show off gear for teams in other markets (see Yankees, the). If Teddy L. and Ovie can turn Lebron into a Caps fan, think of all the free press! He could bring the magic of Ovechkin to a whole new market segment, regardless of anything having to do with his play on the court.

Posted by: wahoo2x | April 3, 2009 8:08 AM | Report abuse

Even though I hate Lebron when he plays the Wiz, he really is a decent young man. Works hard and keeps his nose clean and is not as arrogant as we like to believe. Dude is phenomenal in the game of basketball and you can't really hate him for it. And he lists DC as one in his "Fave Five" as the cities he likes most, ahead of LA. Not bad. This was way cool though.

Posted by: ivyleague | April 3, 2009 8:09 AM | Report abuse

caps fans, don't lose your soul.

Posted by: trolly_time | April 3, 2009 8:16 AM | Report abuse

I like Ted is being nice to Lebron. That way he'll come to a caps playoff game, they can put him on the jumbotron, then all 18,000 can boo the hell out of him.

But really, what he did in Bejing and now that the crab dribble is exposed, I got no more ill will moving forward.

Posted by: HogsHaven | April 3, 2009 8:38 AM | Report abuse

So did AO even say anything? BTW look at a team photo for the capitols some time. Its a bunch of pretty boys and the Ovechkin.

Posted by: alex35332 | April 3, 2009 8:47 AM | Report abuse

"So did AO even say anything?"

Yeah, he said "I do like NBA."

I thought that was awesome. I still hate LeBron, but that was a fun story. WRT to the "replica jersey" issue - he *is* still a Cav.

Posted by: VTDuffman | April 3, 2009 8:52 AM | Report abuse

LeBron can go ---- himself. Show respect and take off your dang glasses. I wish Semin had been there to give LeDoosh one of his patented beat-downs.

Also, is it me, or does Backstrom look a little like Richard Christy?

Posted by: EGTuna | April 3, 2009 9:33 AM | Report abuse

It seems as though Ovie is intimidated thats why he doesn't say much. Lebron is a huge star so I don't really blame him.

Posted by: JDP_ | April 3, 2009 10:09 AM | Report abuse

Why is Alex wearing Ovechkin gear? Does he have a line of clothing?

Posted by: Tony-Tony-Tony | April 3, 2009 10:20 AM | Report abuse

Dan - nice job. At the right place at the right time.

Posted by: pcs401 | April 3, 2009 10:22 AM | Report abuse

Tony-Tony-Tony - the Ovie clothes is thru CCM - for the selection.

Posted by: pcs401 | April 3, 2009 10:25 AM | Report abuse

That lockeroom looks like s&*^t. Could we have eliminated the urinals in the background?

Posted by: saintex | April 3, 2009 10:43 AM | Report abuse

Brashear would crush Lebron.

Posted by: SA-Town | April 3, 2009 10:51 AM | Report abuse

I don't know why people would say they HATE Lebron. He seems to be a regular guy, doesn't take himself too seriously. The fact that he and Kobe attended Michael Phelps' races at the Olympics and cheered like anyone else demonstrates that. OV is the same. He has season tickets to the Wizards and goes to Redskins games too. No entourage, no hoopla, just a fan.

Posted by: chopin224 | April 3, 2009 11:18 AM | Report abuse

"I don't know why people would say they HATE Lebron."

It's Sports Hate. It's different from Real-Life Hate Hate.

See Also: Internet Hate, Celebrity Hate.

I Sports Hate Lebron, I don't know him well enough personally to make any real judgements about his character.

Posted by: VTDuffman | April 3, 2009 11:20 AM | Report abuse

Another great story by steinberg- nothing gets by danny boy...

last nite's game reaffirmed why I "sports hate" Lebron. 1.) he flops. 2.) he gets most of the calls, and then cries with a pouty face when a call doesn't go his way...

Posted by: rtramonte5500 | April 3, 2009 11:42 AM | Report abuse

Just watched a story on LeBron recently and was impressed with him. He came off very down to earth and normal or a mega-star. I didn't know the story of how he's literally been a phenom since he was a kid. His story is pretty amazing. He still hangs with the friends he had when he was young in Cleveland and some of them work for him. I never thought much of him honestly but after watching that I am a new fan.

@EGTuna - NO, NO, NO!!! 1,000 X's NO!!!! Backie definitely does NOT look ANYTHING like Richard Christy!! GROSS!!! And I guarantee he smells MUCH better too!!!

I heart Backstrom! :)

Posted by: mikesgirl1 | April 3, 2009 11:53 AM | Report abuse

I put this up for most boring bog post ever.

Posted by: binnenreim | April 3, 2009 12:07 PM | Report abuse

Nicky's got some awesoem golden swedish hockey hair going on. But where is the Third Muskateer?

Posted by: RedBirdie | April 3, 2009 12:33 PM | Report abuse

I ran into Ted, Ovie, Backs and their young lady escorts in the hallway outside the locker room. I think that they loved meeting LeBron...Ovie had a huge grin on his face.
It was great to see how good the Wizards can be when their entire team is actually healthy. Bodes well for next season.

Posted by: thatguyhugs | April 3, 2009 1:21 PM | Report abuse

He's never seen live hockey?!? If you are lucky enough to play a sport professionally, you should have the desire to see what all the other pro-sports in action. He certainly has the means, not to mention the connections, to get a great seat at a great game. Sorry, no respect for LeBron in my book.

Posted by: jscott0113 | April 3, 2009 1:24 PM | Report abuse

Okay Steinz, what I want to know is, did OV & Backs go to the ultra-exclusive LeBron party last night after this meeting?

Posted by: mikesgirl1 | April 3, 2009 2:14 PM | Report abuse

Question since I don't follow the NBA: Is LeBron (or has LeBron been) the MVP of that league? If so, pretty cool...

Posted by: oldtimehockey | April 3, 2009 2:33 PM | Report abuse


LJ has not been the MVP yet, but he is the odds-on favorite for this year...

Considering Ovie's chances for NHL MVP, that is a pretty cool photo. Thanks for the story.

Posted by: nomarjax01 | April 3, 2009 4:23 PM | Report abuse

Ovie should not have given LeBron that jersey, he's never gonna wear it. (I'm positive) He should've given it to me! Actually I want a Green jersey (cause everyone has Ovie) but LeBron won't wear that, unless something crazy happens and he becomes a fan, I mean he is from Akron, Ohio and he is a NY Yankees fan so why not be a Caps fan?

Posted by: rachel216 | April 3, 2009 6:09 PM | Report abuse

binnenreim: if it's so boring then why does it have the most comments?

Posted by: rachel216 | April 3, 2009 6:12 PM | Report abuse

The comments to this entry are closed.

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