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LeBron James the nice guy? Run-in with servicemen makes Miami Heat star harder to dislike

During a recent trip to Portland, the Heat had a layover at OKC's Will Rogers World Airport. According to an airport worker, LeBron James roused his teammates for photos with military personnel.
by Jenni Carlson Published: March 24, 2012

Go ahead and hate LeBron James.

It seems like the thing to do if you like any NBA team other than the Heat.

Hey, I get it. The guy spurned a hard-luck sports city in the most distasteful of ways. Taking his talents to South Beach? Who says stuff like that?

In Oklahoma City, the disdain has only grown. LeBron has become the face of the franchise that poses the biggest roadblock to NBA gold for the hometown team. We may know just how big a block after Sunday night's game.

Add in his Twitter-fueled spat with Kendrick Perkins, and LeBron tops the public enemy list.

But before you bring out the torches and pitchforks, you might want to hear this story about LeBron, a layover in Oklahoma City and a run-in with some servicemen.

Three weeks ago, the Heat left Miami for a three-game West Coast swing.

First stop: Portland.

That's a 2,700-mile trip, but it's a flight that most planes make without stopping to refuel.

But on the day that the Heat headed west, the headwinds were stronger than normal. The team plane was going to use more fuel than usual, so a refueling stop would be necessary.

Turns out, Oklahoma City was that stopping point.

Refueling a massive airplane takes time, so according to an airport worker who witnessed the entire scene, the players got off the jet and went inside the general aviation terminal at Will Rogers World Airport. Some lounged in chairs. Others stretched their legs. Most stayed in their own little world.

Not LeBron.

He noticed a couple of uniformed military personnel approach the team's security person. Unbeknown to him, about a dozen helicopters were stopped there for fuel as well. There were Blackhawks and Apaches and Chinooks, all on long-distance flights. Will Rogers happened to be their refueling stop.

Just like the Heat players, the helicopter pilots were in the terminal stretching their legs.

They never expected the Miami Heat to walk through the door.

Some of them wanted pictures with the players, but when the crew members approached the team's security detail, they were told no.

Continue reading this story on the...

by Jenni Carlson
Jenni Carlson, a sports columnist at The Oklahoman since 1999, came by her love of sports honestly. She grew up in a sports-loving family in Kansas. Her dad coached baseball and did color commentary on the radio for the high school football...
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