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Dortmund's Christian Pulisic celebrates after he scored his side's second goal during the German Bundesliga soccer match between Borussia Dortmund and TSG Hoffenheim in Dortmund, Germany, Saturday, Dec. 16, 2017. Dortmund defeated Hoffenheim with 2-1. (AP Photo/Martin Meissner)

Martin Meissner/Associated Press

Borussia Dortmund and USMNT star Christian Pulisic told ESPN’s Raphael Honigstein that Cleveland Cavaliers forward LeBron James was one of his inspirations.

“LeBron James has always been a big inspiration of mine,” he said. “I’m a big fan—I just love to watch him and I obviously support wherever he is.”

The Hershey, Pennsylvania native also gave a shout-out to Philadelphia.

“I also like my hometown team, the 76ers,” he said. “I like to follow a lot of different teams and different players—I just really like the sport.”

Pulisic, 19, also revealed that he played the sport growing up:

“I played one year of competitive basketball actually. I don’t remember what grade I was in, maybe middle school or something. I was always the smallest one but I did my best. I thought I did pretty good but I was always a little bit better at soccer so I had to make the decision. 

“[Basketball] is definitely one of my biggest passions. I played every day after school with all my friends from high school in Pennsylvania. They weren’t really soccer players so we would play basketball all the time.”

Choosing soccer has worked out pretty well for Pulisic. The 19-year-old has already won a regular place in Dortmund’s first team, scoring three goals and adding an assist in 16 appearances in Bundesliga play this season.

He also finished third in goals during CONCACAF World Cup qualifying with seven, trailing only Guatemala’s Carlos Ruiz (nine) and his United States’ team-mate Jozy Altidore (eight). His six assists led all players in the competition, though his excellent qualifying run wasn’t enough to push the U.S. into the 2018 World Cup, as the country disappointingly fell short for the first time since 1986.

Still, Pulisic has the upside to become the most talented and productive player in USMNT history, as least to this point. Given James’ place amongst the all-time greats in NBA and basketball history, it’s little surprise that a basketball fan like Pulisic considers him an inspiration. 

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