January 31, 2003

Lebron James was declared ineligible: by the Ohio High School Athletic Association for accepting two authentic throw-back jerseys once worn by Hall of Fame football star Gale Sayers and basketball great Wes Unseld, which were together valued at $845. James posed for photographs, which were hung in the store, in compensation. As of today LJ is ineligible, and he can of course appeal the decision, but this has some wider implications in high school athletics. Lebron was making all this money for his school and now he gets a gift, getting a small cash-in for all he has done for his school, and he gets this. Now it is obvious that he did violate the rule, and I think that if that is the rule, then it should be enforced, but maybe in the future rules like these might need to be looked into, so that high school phenom’s can get some cash for their work. Also of note is that the McDonalds High School All American Game is to be held in Cleveland this year, and we can all figure out why it will be there, but if Lebron is ineligible, then he is no longer a high school player, and he can not participate.

posted by Niche to basketball at 06:19 PM - 12 comments

'Hypocrisy!' has been the popular cry among the sports radio talking heads. And perhaps, to an extent, they're right. Heard John Thompson call it 'entrapment', which has a great sinister edge to it, however inaccurate. But the operative word here has to be 'predictable'. Nobody saw this coming? He gets chauffeured to games in Limo's and the OHSAA is shocked, shocked I say, that someone might toss him some swag? Why this breaks all the rules. And just where were Lebron's 'people'? What this really smells of is a soul-cleansing attempt by the OHSAA (and maybe even St. Vincent- St. Mary), who have taken a ton of heat for their unapologetic Lebron James profiteering. "Look, see, we're about amateurism. And the kids. And of course the integrity of the game. This hurts us as much as anybody. Really." Here's predicting the sentence is reduced to a few games providing Lebron gives back his ill-gotten gains. Or at least pays the actual list price of those throwbacks. The only way I shell out 400+ bones for a Gale Sayers jersey is if Sayers himself agrees to come to my house and dialog every step of his six TD game against the Niners in '65. And he better have Butkus and the ghost of George Halas with him.

posted by kloeprich at 07:07 PM on January 31, 2003

but maybe in the future rules like these might need to be looked into, so that high school phenom’s can get some cash for their work. That's nuts. I can see giving cash stipends to college athletes for living expenses etc, but paying high school players is crazy. First of all, how many high school athletes really bring in all that much money to their school. This Lebron hype phenomenon of a high school player is a once a decade kind of thing, if that, not some sort of continuing issue like it is at the college level where millions and millions of dollars are at stake. (of course now ESPN et al will go looking for the next Lebron every year, but I digress...) Second, the huge majority of these high school kids live at home - they don't have the need for money that college athletes have. Sure there are high schools, including the basketball factory excuse-for-a-high-schools, where kids live at the school, but how do you decide which kids get money and which don't - based on their ppg stats? Just the ones at private schools? Yeah that's a good idea. If you are an athlete and you want to make money, go pro.

posted by pitchblende at 07:18 PM on January 31, 2003

kloeprich - welcome aboard! Way to come in with flair! The inevitability of this was in direct proportion to the desire to pursue the spectre of this type of activity. You don't even have to be as good as LeBron James to receive this kind of filthy lucre...but once he started getting Hummers it was only a matter of time before the Man came down on him. Really, no big deal to him. He was going to declare himself eligible, he was going to get drafted lottery, and he is going to sign a big contract. Now we just get to dispense with all the media speculation as to whether he'll go play a year at UNLV or go pro. And LeBron will get to screw adult tail instead of the high school action. The horror!

posted by vito90 at 07:43 PM on January 31, 2003

Oh yeah, If you are an athlete and you want to make money, go pro Gospel.

posted by vito90 at 07:45 PM on January 31, 2003

The foolishness displayed by LeBron James here does not bode well for his future in the NBA. As I've said before, a prep phenom needs a strong support group and some common sense in order to survive the distractions, drugs, and hangers-on that come from pro stardom. If he walks right into a simple trap like this, what else will he fall into?

posted by rcade at 08:09 PM on January 31, 2003

If you are an athlete and you want to make money, go pro. He would have last year, but the NBA didn't let him.

posted by chmurray at 08:48 PM on January 31, 2003

I question James as a team player. Even though the NBA has altered (or ignored) the rules to emphasis one-on-one play, the best teams (Dallas and Sacramento) are the ones who played best as a team. James is a talent, no question about it. I just wonder how much of a team player he is.

posted by shackbar at 11:53 PM on January 31, 2003

A harsh or positive assessment of LeBron James as a "team player" is probably rather premature. (And it would be nice to see DAL or SAC get to the Finals before calling them the "best" teams.) Like many of these concerns about the player, we're not going to have any answers for several years. Some guys don't work out, but with the exception of Kobe Bryant, who has looked at the people around any of the players like James before going to the NBA and said, "these guys definitely know how to manage a career"? While there's nothing wrong with taking the path of least resistance, he could have challenged the NBA's rules or gone abroad and gotten paid. He chose instead to stay home, get the greatest amount of hype and play players well below his level, with the rub that he's not supposed to get paid. If he had misgivings about the games on cable and PPV and the cross-country touring, October was the time to speak up, not January when he gets busted. Overall, as vito90 suggests, it's probably a non-story in the grand scheme of things.

posted by jackhererra at 07:09 AM on February 01, 2003

So, it's no problem to be a teen athlete driving around a "gift" $50K Hummer, but a big problem posing for some $900 worth of jerseys? Nice.

posted by worldcup2002 at 10:26 PM on February 01, 2003

Worldcup, supposedly they investigated the loan for the car and the paperwork was all in order. Given LeBron's earnings potential, it is reasonable that a bank would deem his mother a safe risk for a 50K car loan. It's eyebrow raising but feasible that the Hummer LeBron got from Ma was legit.

posted by vito90 at 12:39 AM on February 02, 2003

They should've given the jerseys to his mother, then.

posted by worldcup2002 at 09:47 AM on February 03, 2003

I'm just sorry this is all ending ... I like seeing the word "hummer" all over newspapers. As for the validity of this, hey, he was an amateur, which I believe is Latin for "individual to be exploited." For LeBron, his family and just about everyone else, this is just like an early graduation. What it does is ruin the season for his teammates. I think this should be a suspension, but out for the rest of the season? I don't think so. Don't penalize everyone else for his stupidity.

posted by wfrazerjr at 02:21 PM on February 06, 2003

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