Independent Student Newspaper Since 1969

The Badger Herald

Independent Student Newspaper Since 1969

The Badger Herald

Independent Student Newspaper Since 1969

The Badger Herald


LaBron James garnering too much sympathy

You expected 18-year-old high school phenom LeBron James to be in the headlines over the last week. It’s been that way every day since last spring.

You expected the media to have a field day with the recent investigations pertaining to LeBron’s eligibility in the wake of accepting a Hummer and two jerseys as a prelude to his future stardom in the NBA. They were already reporting on whether the kid was wearing boxers or briefs to school each day.

You expected the water-cooler conversation to pivot on whether James deserved what he got when he was initially forced to forfeit his amateur status as a basketball player. People couldn’t shut up about him in the first place.


But what finally shocked me was the national response James garnered in the aftermath of his Groundhog’s Day presents.

Rather than scolding the young lad on how idiotic it was for him to accept $845 of merchandise just days after escaping his Hummer saga, basketball analysts and sports journalists condemned the OSHAA (Ohio State High School Athletic Association) for the tyrannical actions taken towards the innocent 18-year-old. How could they end the young man’s season like this?

Many contended that, as long as the jerseys were returned, a brief suspension should suffice as a necessary punishment. And after yesterday’s appeal of the original ruling, this is the case for the NBA’s future No. 1 pick.

But up until that point, the only person being held accountable for James’s “innocent mistake” was everyone but the man sporting a throwback Gale Sayers jersey cruising around the streets of Akron in a decked out Hummer.

It certainly couldn’t have been his fault, could it? He’s too young to comprehend what he was really doing, objected a certain number of dopes. Guys like Dick Vitale kept asking why the people around him weren’t doing a better job guiding this kid as he prepares for June’s draft.

People attacked the nature of the rule rather than the nature of the problem. James was painted as the innocent victim swept up in the greed and lust of the mass media. Certainly, he couldn’t have been the smoking gun to the reoccurring problems surrounding young athletes in the modern era.

It’s never the athlete’s fault in today’s world. Not even if the athlete is an 18-year-old high school basketball player — not even if the athlete couldn’t attend his appellate hearing because he had to take a fourth-period chemistry test.

I’m not a member of the LeBron James fan club, I didn’t host a “LeBron’s James Party” when he made his ESPN2 debut and I don’t wake up each morning thirsting for my daily intake of LeBron info.

I think he’s a talented high school basketball player, and I’m sure the guy isn’t the spawn of Satan.

How the better part of the country missed this one is beyond me. Simply put, James, and only James, is at fault for this latest fiasco.

He broke the rules. And while the rules may seem unjust, they’re still something to live within. James — a kid who has a lawyer, a public relations man and a security team — claimed he didn’t know he was in violation of any rule when he accepted two vintage jerseys under the table from a local sporting goods store in exchange for taking a picture to be hung on the store wall.

Sure, that kind of thing happens to every high school kid. He then went on to say that he thought he received them for being an honor roll student. Of course! I forgot about all the kids on the math team in high school walking around wearing an assortment of jerseys from the 1974 Pittsburgh Steelers. By the way, I’m sure he’s really been cracking down on the books while honeymooning on his posh two-month, coast-to-coast road trip en route to earning a spot on the honor roll.

And the unbelievable part about this weeklong soap opera is that it was merely a sequel to the previous scandal involving his Hummer accusation. After dodging that bullet, you’d think he would refuse so much as a slice of pizza from a buddy at the lunch table until he graduated high school.

But not James. He turns around and does something like this just a few days after this incident was swept under the rug. What are they going to do to him? Suspend him? Big deal. Six months from now he’s going to be a millionaire. What does high school basketball mean to this kid?

The arrogance that has accumulated within James over the last year is unbelievable. He didn’t have enough attention on him with the nationally televised games or magazine articles so he had to go out and pick up a Hummer. His mom couldn’t wait until June to buy this for him.

Then he goes out and does this – because he’s LaBron James. Is it any coincidence that the first time a high school athlete is profiled as much as James has been, something as dramatic as this transpires.

Kevin Garnett, Kobe Bryant and Tracy McGrady were all fabulous high school players. They weren’t as celebrated during their youth as James has been, and they all still flourished. But the floor of publicity is lowered and hell rises for this young man.

Bottom line, if this kid wants to be in the spotlight he had better know that it shines off the court as well. He’s under a microscope and he knows it, and no one should feel sorry for him.

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