Nike Basketball partners with award-winning poet and playwright Lemon Andersen paying tribute to James’s journey.
Ten years ago, Andersen wrote “King,” a piece that paid tribute to James’s ascension into professional basketball. Andersen was invited by Nike to perform his work live in front of James.
Nike is again partnering with Andersen to salute James’s decade in the league with a new piece that pays homage to James’s upbringing in his hometown of Akron, Ohio. The poem also celebrates his championships while looking forward to his future path.
Andersen’s poem symbolically culminates with: “Talent is given, Greatness is earned.”
Rubber City Soul
For In a land far away Under a blanket of the stars On a moonless night a child was born in a kingdom Of basketball gods
In a county they called the summit north of the capital a rubber city Where the Akronites run it
This child earned Learned the labors of his love From watching his neighbors Rise above hard work At the local mills Watching the sweat of their brow Seeing his comrades growing up Trying to conquer the hill A steep field of wheat worn from cleats and cold pounding the bottom of their soles Against tough Ohio winters and unconditional vertigo
But he rose from the dusk of Elizabeth Park And her projects till the arrival of the dawn rose from a high school phenom Straight to the pros never forgetting how the sun set on Lake Erie How the rough waters of the spotlight can ravage Flow savagely along always high tide Knowing the odds against him Yet his will to compete Remained Hickory Street strong
For In all this love for his land He learned to live by the code of a warriors song and glorious were the wins stacked to the back of the wall banners dropped from the top of the rafters For all the world to see this man child rise up against the odds under the Akronite philosophy In his mind ever burned: Talent is given Greatness is earned.