The basketball world caught its first glimpse of Duke freshman Paolo Banchero's immense talent in Tuesday's season-opening 79-71 win over Kentucky at Madison Square Garden. That includes Lakers star LeBron James, who appreciated the Seattle native's kicks as much as his game.
James posted an Instagram story of Banchero tying his blue and white LeBron 11 sneakers with the caption "PAOLO VIBEZ!!!! 11's GO CRAZY." The picture came from SLAM, which featured Banchero -- the nation's second-ranked recruit, per 247Sports -- on its most recent magazine cover.
"AND BY THE WAY HE SO TOUGH," James added in Wednesday's story. "SEATTLE GOT ANOTHER 1."
Banchero -- who recorded 22 points, seven rebounds and two steals in his highly-anticipated college debut -- caught wind of James' story later Wednesday, and the 18-year-old expressed palpable shock and happiness to be recognized by the player he considers the "goat."
no way bron put me on tha story man sorry but y’all gotta let me be a fan for a second 😭 that’s my goat fr 🤞🏽— Paolo Banchero🇮🇹 (@Pp_doesit) November 10, 2021
James wasn't the only NBA star to recognize Banchero's skills. Charlotte Hornets forward Miles Bridges tweeted "Paolo Banchero got game" during Tuesday's Duke-Kentucky game, six days after Banchero wrote "miles bridges is so cold."
If Banchero keeps putting together performances like Tuesday's, the NBA players he idolizes from afar will soon become his peers. Banchero will next make his Cameron Indoor Stadium debut Friday at 7 p.m. against Army.