During his rookie year in the NBA, a teenage LeBron James handled unprecedented attention and endless microphones with poise and aplomb. Except for that one time.
When he was bypassed for the 2004 All-Star Game in Los Angeles -- partially because of rookie hazing, partially because of the Cleveland Cavaliers' losing record -- James took it personally and lashed out to the point where he showed a rare moment of immaturity.
"I don't come second," James snapped when asked if he was holding out hope to be an injury replacement that year. "I'm an only child and I never want to be picked second."
Only James knows exactly why he rejected multiple overtures from the league and sponsors to take part in the slam dunk contest that year -- the event's title sponsor, Sprite, was one of James' main partners -- but the snub almost certainly played a role.
"Still kinda irks me a little bit," James said with a smile last week.
This weekend will be James' 17th consecutive All-Star start, the longest such streak in history. Over the years, All-Star Weekends have become exhausting for James, as he has balanced a schedule loaded with charity work, sponsor demands, social events, player's union responsibilities and some basketball.