By Joey Villar for NBA.com Philippines/The Philippine STAR
MANILA, Philippines – LeBron James of the reigning NBA champion Miami Heat is coming to Manila on July 23.
Nike Philippines made the announcement Friday as part of its "Leave a Message" campaign designed to inspire young Filipino athletes to strive for greatness and perhaps be like James.
Just right after James and the Heat beat the San Antonio Spurs for their second straight NBA championship last month, Nike joined the celebration with the "Leave a Message" campaign on social and digital message channels.
It featured basketball stars, luminaries and influential figures for James like Spike Lee, Warren Buffet, Dr. Dre, Coach K, Phil Knight, Drake, Bill Russell and kids from The LeBron James Family Foundation leaving congratulatory messages for the basketball super star on his answering machine.
On the same breath, fans in this basketball-hungry country will also have a special chance to leave a personal message for James through social media like Twitter and Facebook, radio and retail activation that started Friday.
By visiting the Nike Basketball Facebook and Twitter pages, fans can "leave a message" for the two-time champion and four-time MVP along with a picture of themselves that express a personal message to the player everyone calls "The King."
Nike Phl instructs the caption of the photo should tag Nike Basketball Phl (https://www.facebook.com/nikebasketball.phils) on Facebook or tag @NikePH on Twitter, both including the hashtag #WITNESSHISTORY.
Filipino fans can witness history and see LeBron live on July 23. Tickets will be distributed at Nike Park in Bonifacio Global City at 12:00 p.m. on Wednesday, July 17. Tickets are free of charge and will be distributed on a first-come, first-served basis. Only two tickets will be given per person.
Since breaking into the NBA as a high school phenom exactly a decade ago, James has achieved a lot.
James won a title twice as a Heat, the Finals MVP the same number of times, clinched the MVP regular season trophy four times, made the All-Star nine times while winning two All-Star MVP and a one-time scoring champion and 2004 Rookie of the Year.
This early, the 28-year-old James, who has a body of a Dominique Wilkins at 6-8 and 250-pound, the passing savvy of Magic Johnson and the drive of a Michael Jordan, is being considered as one of the NBA's greatest players to play the game.
So Filipinos get a treat because this marks the first time that James will visit local soil.
Boom Gonzalez, who will be hosting the Nike-sponsored momentous event, said in Twitter James has agreed even before the NBA finals concluded.
"For those asking, LBJ said yes to the trip even before the NBA finals began. Win or lose, he was coming," said Gonzalez, a popular television host and sports analyst who covered the Heat-Spurs finale for ABS-CBN.
Interestingly, James is just one of the stars descending to the country as Derrick Rose of the Chicago Bulls along with Tony Parker of the Spurs and Eric Gordon of the New Orleans Pelicans are also scheduled to fly to Manila on September 2 thanks to adidas.
The NBA is also holding a pre-season game between the Indiana Pacers and the Houston Rockets on Oct. 10 at the MOA Arena in Pasay City.
Among the stars coming to Manila in that historic game are Indiana's Paul George, David West and Roy Hibbert and Houston's James Harden, Jeremy Lin, Chandler Parsons, Omer Asik and its recent free agent acquisition Dwight Howard.
A couple of years back, a constellation of NBA stars have also visited the country for a pair of games and the players that came were Rose, Harden, Kobe Bryant, Kevin Durant, Chris Paul, Tyreke Evans, Derrick Williams, Derek Fisher and JaVale McGee.