LEBRON James may be fun to watch and entertaining on the court, but not so off it.
So say some players who had the chance to meet him up close during the NBA superstar's 'Witness History' event at the Mall of Asia Arena on Tuesday.
“Suplado siya,” said one popular PBA player who asked that he not be named. “Kapag lumapit ka sa kanya, kahit wala ka pang sinasabi, magsasalita na agad siya ng, ‘No pictures, no autographs.'
"Kaya umpisa pa lang, ilag na kami,” he added.
Another PBA player who spent time on the court with James concurred with the observation, saying the four-time NBA MVP and two time champion made no effort to reach out to fellow players during the MOA event.
James inevitably drew comparisons with fellow NBA superstar Kobe Bryant, a frequent Manila visitor whose outgoing ways have endeared him to Filipino fans and players alike.
"Hindi siya (James) outgoing … malayong malayo kay Kobe," said the player.
Gilas Pilipinas mainstay Ranidel de Ocampo, however, was quick to defend the Heat forward, saying James, unlike Bryant, had a tight schedule during his whirlwind visit and didn't have enough time to interact with fans.
"Intindihin na lang natin siguro na medyo tight ang schedule niya,” de Ocampo said. “Mahirap din kasi na pagbigyan niya isa … Obligado syang pagbigyan niya lahat. Hindi na siya matatapos sa gagawin niya.
"Saka pinasaya naman niya tayo eh. Okay na yun.”
That Bryant seemed friendlier than James is understandable since the Los Angeles Lakers star has been in the limelight far longer and therefore knows how to handle fans better, de Ocampo said.
The two global icons also have different personalities, he added.
“Iba kasi yung charisma ni Kobe, marunong siyang makibagay. Kapag wala siyang ginagawa, pinagbibigyan niya yung picture-taking at pirma. Pag hindi, sinasabi niya ng maayos,” he said.
“Parang alam na niya ang sistema. Matagal na rin kasi siya, di ba?”
“Alam kong hindi ako makakapa-picture sa kanya, kaya sinabayan ko na lang siya nung dumakdak siya (during the MOA Arena scrimmage)," he said in jest.
"Atleast, nakasama niya ko sa picture. Posterized nga lang," de Ocampo added, breaking into laughter.