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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

Maybe LeBron could overhear the conversation, or perhaps he could just tell by their body language what was going on. Either way, he piped up.

“Hey, hey,” he said, “any of these military guys can take a picture with us.”

He turned to his teammates.

“You guys get up,” he told them.

He turned to the servicemen.

“Get your camera up,” he said.

He started to wave the servicemen over but noticed that some of the players weren't yet on their feet.

“Hey, everybody get up,” he said. “Get in a circle here. Anybody that wants their picture taken with us, we'll do it.”

And that's exactly what they did. Any of the four or five dozen helicopter crewmen who wanted a photo got one. Not all of them did, but LeBron and his teammates posed with each and every one of them who asked.

When those pilots and crewmen walked out of the terminal and back across the tarmac, they had big ol' smiles on their faces.

“Can you believe that?” they asked each other. “Who would've ever thought?”

Maybe they meant who would've thought they'd run into the Miami Heat at the Oklahoma City airport.

But maybe they meant, “Who would've ever thought LeBron would be so cool?”

It would've been so easy for a superstar like that to ignore those military men. No one would've ever known that he turned a blind eye to their request.

But that's not what he did. One of the biggest villains in sports did something nice for some of the folks who have volunteered to protect and defend our country's freedom. It wasn't for publicity. It wasn't a big deal for those players. But for those helicopter crews who may one day put themselves in harm's way, it is something they'll always relish.

So, go ahead and hate LeBron if you must.

I'm just not sure he seems like such a bad guy anymore.

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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