James is a hot-rod basketball player at St.
Vincent-St. Mary's HS in Ohio (the specific town
escapes me at this point in time). Although he has
been the "second coming" for several years now
(according to some), he really gained notoriety last
year when he wanted to forego his senior year in order
to jump to the NBA. Not his senior year of college,
mind you-his senior year of HIGH SCHOOL. Give me a
break. I mean, that's all well and good, but imagine
this: suppose his first game out, and he does
something like tear his ACL, MCL, and PCL
simultaneously, in such a way that prevents him from
playing in the NBA. Ever. Then what? My point exactly.
Fortunately, common sense and rules intervened at that
point, and he was "forced" to return for his senior
year. Great. So basketball season hits, and now he's
got games NATIONWIDE. AND ON NATIONAL TV.
Let's look at these individually:
1. Nationwide games:
This just strikes me as more of a novelty than
anything else. I mean, a team from Ohio playing in
Westwood, CA? I know that sports and other
extra-curriculars take up a lot of a student's free
time. And that's just playing against other schools in
the same state! I mean, in order to play a game
halfway across the country, you'd have to take a
MINIMUM of 2 days off from school to make it work. I
would have to question why administrators or teachers
would be willing to make concessions in academics in
order to facilitate these massive trips.
And, on a sidebar, note that ticket prices for these
games are 10-15 bucks...Hmmmmm...
2. National TV coverage.
Don't get me wrong. I briefly tuned in to the ESPN2
game in December to see if this was going to live up
to the hype. Well, it did, but only to a point. And
the fact that they are putting games on regional PPV
is questionable as well. I'm not saying the kid can't
play, but it just seems like an attempt to cash in on
his skills. I'll wait until he hits the NBA before I
pass judgement on that.
And let's not forget that around this time, the shoe
companies are jockeying for position, and he's also
off shooting hoops with Jordan. Concentrate on
schoolwork? Makes you wonder. Also note that since
he's the "chosen one", he thinks he can choose which
NBA team he plays or doesn't play for. Pretty brash
for an unproven commodity. And he'll only interview
with Deion Sanders? WHO DOES THIS GUY THINK HE IS?!
Now this is where the situation starts to gain its
infamy. It's mid-January, and James pulls into the
schoolyard in a brand-new Hummer H2, valued from
50-80k, depending on who you ask. This is a problem on
a lot of levels.
First off, how is the mother even affording something
like this? I've heard that she works very little, if
at all. I worked full-time for the last 6 years and
probably didn't make enough to pay for something like
that in full...hell, I could probably die under the
weight of the payments. It's allegedly on the
up-and-up, but until I can see some numbers or
something, it seems pretty shady. And if she figures
she's going to be able to afford this based on his
future earnings, that is really troubling.
Besides, why do you need something like that, even
when you're 18? WHen I was 18, I drove a 1986 Ford
Aerostar. "Shucks, all the peolpe down in Texas drive
Lexuses and BMW's et al. Well, Akron, Ohio isn't
Texas, and I nkow for a fact that a lot of the parents
down there are flat LOADED, so I think there's less
of an inherent problem with that. Honestly, since the
guy thinks he's a pro already, would it kill him to
wait 4 more months to sign a pro contract and buy it
then? And, if he's always cris-crossing the country to
play his games, and obviously spends the rest of his
time studying (more on this in a sec), when would he
have time to drive it? Too much, too soon.
And no, this isn't about the show on the Disney
Channel. Reports surface last week that James has
acquired a couple of famous throwback jerseys, those
of Wes Unsoeld and Gayle Sayers (retail value approx
850). Now this is where the story picks up. Why it
does now, and not when the guy has a closet full of
this kind of stuff, and a bunch of expensive shoes, is
unknown. But somebody caught wind of this gift-lo and
behold, the OHSAA rulebook (and probably about 95% of
the country's school athletic boards) prevent players
from accepting gifts due to their athletic acumen, for
lack of better term. So now James is suspended from
basketball for the rest of the year, barring an
And now it gets hilarious. Here's a clip from his
interview with Deion Sanders on February 4...
"It was just me and a bunch of my friends went in there
and the guy said, 'You know, I'll give you a couple of
jerseys for your reward for being on the honor roll,'
Yeah right. I think he forgot the wink-wink and
nudge-nudge part too. How could he honestly think that
the reason he got this stuff was because he was a good
student? I made the honor roll a bunch of times when I
was in HS, and I didn't just walk into a store and
have somebody say "here's a bunch of stuff since
you're a smart guy". Although that happened in my
dreams a few times, and it's a nice thought, it just
doesn't work that way. And for James to try and play
it off like it does is just lame, ridiculous, and
about 50 other words I can't think of. And then he
just tries to play the general public like he was in
the wrong, and that we should go out of our way to
believe him. This whole thing seems pretty fishy if
you ask me.
If you think you can stomach it, check out some of the
hoopla surrounding this guy. It's too much. But I'll
leave the final judgement up to you, although I'll
tell you right now, I'm right on this one!
Back with more controversial stuff next time. In the
meantime, watch "Around The Horn" on ESPN at 5E/2P and
check out Woody Paige. This guy is the man!