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LeBron Ineligible

January 31, 2003 Columns No Comments

LeBron not going to college. Good.

by Jed Tai

So, LeBron James has finally been declared ineligible.

To this college basketball writer…

Who cares?

Despite the fact that nothing was set in stone, there was no way LeBron James was going to play college basketball. He could have named off all the schools in the world, but everyone and their mother knew that he was going to be playing for pay next year. And even if he did decide to do so — did anyone in their right mind actually believe the young man – who shoe companies are already wooing for endorsements – would ever be still eligible as an amateur?

So, I’m with fellow Hoopville writer Dan Hauptman: College hoops has lost nothing.

But that’s not to say I don’t have an opinion about all this mess.

What’s really interesting is how James has responded to all of the controversy so far to date.

“It will be in the paper, but remember, I’m on the honor roll with a 3.5 grade-point average,” said James.

Great LeBron, you’re a guy with a good GPA. But maybe you could have some knowledge of the rules, or – gasp – have some common sense? Did you really think that accepting over 800 dollars of free clothing would slide by? Now, not only can you not play, you’ve cost your team dearly.

It could be argued that the OHSAA (Ohio High School Athletic Association) really didn’t have much of a choice but to rule James ineligible. After all of the hubbub surrounding his receiving a hummer for his birthday, if they allowed this violation to slide, it would have been a PR nightmare. Sure, money will be lost by the OHSAA and by plenty of others now that James’ mug won’t be all over pay-per-view television and in the state tournament.

But rules are rules, and the OHSAA should be commended for doing the right thing this time.

However with that said – this isn’t over.

Rumor is that James will appeal – which is a no-brainer. There’s always the threat of a lawsuit. Heck, the James gang almost considered it last year in challenging the NBA’s early entrant rules for the draft. Or, maybe the OSAA will allow James to return the merchandise in return for his eligibility.

Yup, that’s the answer – that’ll teach him.

The worst thing about the media circus around James has been this — it has taken attention away from others who will be legitimate college basketball players. Whenever a game between St. Vincent-St. Mary has been shown on television, the opposing team more than likely has a few players who are considered college basketball prospects. And they will be in college basketball next season. Yet, because of the presence of James, they don’t get any attention. Even some of James’ talented teammates don’t get proper credit that they deserve.

And because of the likely legal battles ahead, they still won’t.

And you can bet that somehow he’ll still be eligible to play in the McDonald’s All-Star Game – an event that was scheduled in Cleveland just for his benefit.

But hey, we have no one but ourselves to blame. James didn’t ask to have every one of his games televised, his photo all over magazines, etc. The public – and the media – asked for it. And thus, it was delivered.

No one to blame but ourselves.


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