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For LeBron, a Big-Screen Team Sport

At Monday night's screening of "More Than a Game," a Q&A session with, from left, producer Harvey Mason Jr., producer/director Kristopher Belman, LeBron James and James's high school teammates Dru Joyce and Sian Cotton. (Bill Fitzpatrick for Discovery Communications)

The "expected guest list" -- so often a vale of tears. Can we ever really assume a star will show up as promised? Especially when it's a party in (no offense) Silver Spring? And the A-lister is LeBron James?

But there was the Cleveland Cavaliers superstar, resplendent in gray pinstripes, strolling a Colesville Road red carpet into the AFI Silver Theatre on Monday for the Silverdocs opening night -- as not only executive producer of "More Than a Game," the hoop-dreamsy documentary that kicked off the annual film festival, but also the star.

Actually, just one of the stars: In both the movie and the panel discussion that followed, James shared equal billing and time with the teammates he met when they were precociously skilled preteens in a Salvation Army gym in Akron, Ohio, and with whom he kept playing until he vaulted into the NBA after high school. Newbie director Kristopher Belman began following the self-proclaimed "Fab Five" during their 2002-03 championship season for a college filmmaking class. (His original 10-minute short earned a B-plus; the new movie came in second to "Slumdog Millionaire" at the Toronto Film Festival.)

What, beyond their incredible court dominance, drew him in? The bromance. "You don't see 15-, 16-year-old boys giving each other birthday presents," Belman said. These kids did; teammate Romeo Travis, a late joiner of the still-tight clique, teased that they were more "like sisters" than brothers. Travis and the other guys -- Sian Cotton, Dru Joyce, Willie McGee -- later greeted a passel of former teachers at a lavish after-party at Discovery headquarters (dry ice, bourbon shots, marching band, Wale on the mike).

But all eyes were on the 24-year-old superstar, who in the film still seemed devastated by a big loss at a middle-school tourney. NPR's Michele Norris quizzed him about another hurdle, when he came under question for buying a $55,000 Hummer as a high school senior.

"In order to be successful you have to go through trials and tribulations," he explained, then added slyly: "The Hummer was more like $65,000. With rims, 68. Stereo system, about 70."

By The Reliable Source  |  June 16, 2009; 4:30 PM ET
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