Lou Pickney's Online Commentary
LeBron James' Raw Deal
February 1, 2003
6'8" high school basketball phenom LeBron James has been ruled ineligible for the rest of his senior season for allegedly accepting more than $800 worth of free clothes from a store near Cleveland.
James has been the target of attention for some time now. While he plays for Akron's St. Vincent/St. Mary school, clearly he is on another level skill wise than his teammates and competition. An NBA level, to be exact.
See, James was denied entry into the NBA draft last season. The NBA has a rule requiring that a person's high school class finish its senior year before a player can be eligible to enter the league. While I personally would've liked to have seen James challenge that ruling, he chose not to. That's his choice.
So this year James and his team have received attention the likes of which we have never seen on the high school level. Games on Pay Per View cable and ESPN2. Big crowds. Big money coming in, none of which James was allowed to have. Nevermind the fact that he was the sole reason for all of that TV and PPV money.
It's flabbergasting to me, really. Of course, I also take umbrage with college sports and its unwillingness to give more adequate financial compensation to the men and women who compete in the revenue sports. You do realize that the NCAA has a multi billion dollar contract with CBS for the NCAA Men's Tournament -- not to mention the money they make from ABC and the cable networks and regional syndication.
So now the LeBron James gravy train is over for the high schoolers. In many ways, that may be a good thing for James. Sure, he was robbed of a chance to win a state title as a senior. But the profiteering off his name is coming to an end, and soon he will in all likelihood be the first pick in the NBA Draft (or at least a top 3 selection, even under the most unlikely of scenarios). Good luck to you, LeBron. Enjoy earning money for you and your family -- you've earned it.