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Savran: For value of a lad, no values we have

Saturday, February 08, 2003

The next time I see the name LeBron James, I hope it's stitched into the back of an athletic shoe. I don't care if the side of said sneaker is adorned by a Nike swoosh, a Reebok ribbon or the three stripes of adidas, or any other company dealing in equal parts leather and sleaze. Let's just make it official that this kid is officially a professional.

This LeBron lunacy is rapidly climbing the annoyance scale. After the Ohio High School Athletic Association declared him ineligible for entering haberdashery hell, the James camp immediately filed a lawsuit.

Not two minutes went by, and they were ready to march into court, totally ignoring an appeal process already in place.

No thought of using that process, let's go straight to Judge Judy.

Then, not only did Judge James Williams reverse the OHSAA ruling, he decided it was within his domain to determine the length of James' suspension.

How can that possibly fall within the court's jurisdiction? Shouldn't that still be the province of the OHSAA?

Whether or not you agree with Judge Williams that James was being subjected to "immediate and irreparable injury," wasn't he out of bounds to craft an arbitrary suspension of two games, the second game to be chosen by the school? Upon which his school began receiving phone calls from promoters in Trenton, N.J., where the traveling circus troupe will play today, urging them not to choose this game because of all the tickets already sold.

Star for hire.

In the grand tradition of Mary Magdalene, Akron St. Vincent-St. Mary High School has firmly established what it is. Now, it's just a matter of haggling over the price.

There are absolutely no innocents or innocence in any of this.

Going to parochial school isn't free. Who pays for James' tuition? If he's on scholarship, was it based on need or that he's a one-in-10 million basketball player?

The school can pontificate about no class time being missed and what a great educational experience this has been for the players on the team. But generally, when they say it's not about the money, it's about the money.

When does construction on the new rectory begin?

A bus trip to Pittsburgh is one thing. Playing a game in Greensboro, N.C., on a Sunday night, then flying a chartered plane back to Akron, arriving well past midnight, is another. And crowing about how the entire team was in class at 8 a.m. the following day doesn't quite fill all the holes.

Yeah they were back in class, bleary eyed and exhausted.

And, by the way, who bellied up to the collection plate to pay for that plane? The Vatican?

Isn't there someone to guide this kid -- in the right direction?

But then again, how much time does the mother have for mundane things like parenting when she's out arranging loans for a cool ride? Can't have the kid driving around in a Chevette?

Several other co-conspirators not indicated have yet to surface or climb out from under their respective rocks: the advisors, a k a street agents, a k a leeches, who have attached themselves to the kid, waiting for their payday and the shoe companies, who've had their tongues hanging out since this kid's first crossover dribble.

If the judge hadn't issued the injunction, poor little LeBron would be waist deep in Ben Franklins by now.

And what of ESPN televising his games?

Were they serving to satisfy the public's interest? Or did they create it?

And what about the kid himself?

What unmitigated gall and arrogance when he announced his displeasure over the firing of Cleveland Cavaliers coach John Lucas, proclaiming he would never play for his hometown team.

An 18 year old punk trying to intimidate a professional sports franchise, albeit a bad one? Where does he come off saying that?

I suppose when you're accustomed to special treatment, you begin to believe you're special.

Some contend that all the sharks circling LeBron James, including his family, don't have his best interests at heart. Which, of course, is patently ridiculous. What is happening now meshes completely with his best interests, which is getting ready to play in the NBA.

This wasn't about a jersey. It's about all the other transgressions, real and imagined, that have surrounded this kid for the past six months.

I'm sorry. In his case I can't presume innocence until proven guilty, because I don't think there's much innocence to be found anywhere from anybody.

It doesn't bother me that LeBron James is going to be a professional basketball player. It bothers me that he already is.


Stan Savran is the host of a sports talk show for 3-6 p.m. weekdays on WBGG-AM (970).

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