NBA star LeBron James made a surprise visit to a New York City high school on Tuesday and presented both the boys’ and girls’ basketball teams with new locker rooms and playing gear.
Sports Illustrated reports the new Los Angeles Lakers player showed up to Christ the King, the Queens basketball powerhouse school, and shocked the students and staff gathered in the gym.
"They said there was a surprise," said one of the athlete students who'd been waiting in the gym. "I heard a deep voice, saw this big, tall dude, and I realized it was LeBron."
"Everybody jumped up and was like, 'LEBRON JAMES!'" he said.
"When he walked in, it was kind of just surreal," said senior forward Clarke Sconiers. "To see that he took time out of his day to come here and give back, that meant a lot to us."
James spoke to the Royals before helping Coach Joe Arbitello reveal the upgraded locker rooms. He also gifted them his coveted "CTK" Nike Zoom sneakers and jerseys. The visit coincided with Nike's surprise release of the retro "Christ the King" Zoom LeBron 3, which sports the school's maroon, gold and white colorway. The limited edition "CTK" was made available in New York City only via the SNKRS app and quickly sold out. It is expected to get a wider in-store launch in New York City on Sept. 6, according to Footlocker.
The school basketball program's ties to James and Nike prompted criticism, but Arbitello wasn't having any of it.
"Anybody that criticizes LeBron James doesn't have a grasp on society," he said. "He really inspired our kids."
The Queens school is well-known for its basketball program, which has won several championships in the last 10 years. Notable alumni include former NBA players Lamar Odom and Jayson Williams, and current WNBA stars Sue Bird and Tina Charles.
James has kept busy this summer, opening a school in his hometown of Akron, Ohio, and challenging President Trump in TV interviews. He said on CNN, "He's using sport to divide us," to which Trump tweeted in response that James "wasn't smart."
The students at Christ the King have been watching. Their conclusion?
"We won't shut up and dribble," Sconiers declared to applause from her teeammates. "We'll try to do more for the girls' game and the boys' game."