SAN ANTONIO,TEXAS---- So the nation’s top high school player is rolling around in an H2 Hummer. Doesn’t every top high school player get a $50,000 vehicle for his or her eighteenth birthday? They don’t? Well isn’t this a surprise then of LeBron James getting an expensive gift.
Then again it’s not surprise at all; not from this vantage point. Several weeks ago, I wrote an editorial for the Black Athlete Sports Network. It was an ‘open letter’ to James on the perils of his fame and unsubstantiated ‘wealth’ as perceived by the opportunists that are surrounding him. Gloria James and others are saying that she got the truck based upon a $50,000 car loan and the vehicle was shipped from California. California? Why California? Central Hummer is in Cleveland, Ohio. What this dealership didn’t have the color or interior options available at pick up? According to the Cleveland Plain Dealer, James’ SUV has a few television screens and video game hook ups.
There has always been a cesspool of exploitation when it comes to young athletes. One of the main points in my editorial for BASN was the fact that everyone, including James’ family, is taking advantage of his celebrity status and ‘promise of future earnings’ to get what they want. Just to prove a point, one Plains-Dealer columnist put a recent basketball program up on Ebay. The program was 16 pages of ads and he typed up a neat little ad: “Years from now, When King James is shining his NBA rings and ruling his kingdom as basketball’s BEST EVER, you can show your kids and grandkids this program!” The columnist set a starting bid at 99¢ and within a few days, the winning bid was $26. The columnist made a 767% profit on a $3 program.
And if this writer could make such a profit off of a lousy program, just think what others are doing each and every day for, to and against this young man. But a Hummer? One of the biggest problems amateur athletics has is the exploitation of said athletes. Whether that exploitation is from inside the athlete’s family or from external sources, exploitation is still exploitation and it is wrong. It is not too hard to imagine that Gloria James thinks she is doing the best thing for her son. I beg to differ. If LeBron was bouncing around in an Explorer before his 18th birthday then he can still bounce around in that vehicle until he graduates from high school.
There is a lot at stake for St. Vincent-St. Mary’s basketball team and if James is found ineligible and his taking of what amounts to as an extravagant gift that breaks the rules of the governing body for Ohio high school sports, then he has done his team and school disservice. More importantly he will have just proven an old racist adage that those who don’t have anything to begin with, don’t know how to have anything when they get it. Hopefully this is just one big misunderstanding but the chances of this story not being true are about as realistic as LeBron becoming a first round pick.