Occasionally a story will hit the streets that causes an uproar because supposedly something unexpected is going to happen. The extraordinary reaction doesn't always need a truthful story - any newsy story will do.
Last week, Dime Magazine published a story indicating that LeBron James, arguably the best prospect in the class of 2003, was considering turning pro right now.
That folks just isn't so. "It's a false story," LeBron's mother told us this evening.
She also said the family is not doing any interviews for about a month.
Can you imagine the craziness the James family has been dealing with since that story hit the wires? I sure can. And I fully appreciate why the family is backing off from the press for a while. Heck, that they are still dealing with anyone in the media, and doing so very civilly, is remarkable. We, at RivalsHoops, thank them for that.
Now, let's take a look at what caused this uproar. In a multi-topic recruiting column which opened with a story on James, the writer noted that James had become the first junior to win the Gatorade National Player of the Year and would be unlikely to transfer to Oak Hill Academy.
Then there was the following two sentences:
"If James does do anything to shock us it might be skipping his senior season and heading overseas to ball. That’s right, James might spend the year abroad balling against professionals in Italy for a reported $9 million a year."Slam dunk. Because someone wrote it, it now becomes a topic for news shows, newspaper columns, etc.
But throwing a supposition in a column without anything other than a later reference to another rumor does not, in this reporter's estimation, make this news.
All of this seems to have originated from the reaction to James' outstanding performance last July at the ABCD camp. After the frenzy for preps in the then just-completed 2001 NBA draft, there was speculation that James was good enough to take that step right now, and, if he wished, could jump to the pros following his junior school year. (Please notice the emphasis on could.)
But a 'what if' discussion does not represent real life until, and unless, there's some substance to the issue. So far, there hasn't been. But that hasn't stopped these reports; Dime Magazine's is just the latest.
I could be wrong, but I fully expect LeBron James to finish his high school career at St. Vincent/St. Mary.
For those who think there's nothing for him to prove, how about this season's state finals where Roger Bacon upset SVSM, 71-63, for the state title. For me, I'm taking a big hint from SVSM's 2001 high school football season. James, the hottest basketball commodity since Kareem or whoever, played as a wide receiver. Apparently, he thought this was a worthwhile high school experience.
I cannot fathom the pressure that he, and his family, are experiencing. Who and how many approaches have been made by folks trying to show how their program can really take care of everything? Whatever we suspect, I'd add some more.
But from what I've seen and read, I think the edge goes to a family trying to keep things normal in an abnormal situation. So put me down as one who will gladly report on this young man's high school senior season.