I don’t get it. I just don’t.

Maybe I’m stupid. Maybe I’m ignorant. I’ve been called both before, and much worse, too. But I just don’t understand it.

Why in the world is some barely post-pubescent kid from Akron getting more attention than a naked woman in a sports bar? Call me naive, but for Pete’s sake, the kid is only in high school. He can’t buy cigarettes or Playboy and already the world has gone right ahead and anointed this guy the next Michael Jordan/Wilt Chamberlain/God’s gift to the basketball world.

Excuse me if I’m a little skeptical about this kid. But I went to a high school. It had a basketball team, and a pretty decent one at that. One of the guys even went on to play Division I. Other than him, though, the guys on the team weren’t very good. Most people probably had a pretty similar experience at their high schools. Sure, they were good for high school players, but in the long run they weren’t so great, right?

My point is not to offend people who played high school basketball; you’re all probably much better than I am at the game. The point is that if pretty much anyone good enough to play in the NBA was playing against high school kids, he would look like Jesus in Air Jordans. Beating up on high school kids is pretty easy if you’re worthy of an NBA contract; if you can’t make high school kids look like, well, high school kids, then you’re not really going anywhere.

Its pretty telling that I haven’t used LeBron James’ name yet, and you knew exactly who I was talking about. He’s in high school, damn it. That’s out of control.

Of course, the fact that James is still taking geometry doesn’t mean that LeBron isn’t any good; it just means that he’s still an unknown entity. Until he plays against a whole team made up of people who are really, really good, I really don’t want to hear about him. I’ve got better things to do.

Like watch Slamball.

I know, I know, I know that he’s really good. He’s about to become Mr. Basketball in Ohio for the third straight year. He’s scored over 2,400 points in his three-plus years. But that only puts him at seventh all-time for the state of Ohio, just ahead of Jerry Lucas as of yesterday. Is that so great? Sure, he’s an absolute monster to watch, but has he earned the mountain of hype that’s surrounded his senior year of high school? The jury is decidedly still out.

Personally, if I were running an NBA franchise, I would much rather have a guy with even one year of college experience over James. At least a guy like Syracuse’s Carmelo Anthony has proven himself in a limited period of time against a high caliber of competition. James is playing against guys with braces that are more worried about their SATs and finding a date to the prom than how to spend the money from their shoe contracts. Call me when he plays against someone old enough to have his own credit card.

Of course, the tear that former high-school draft pick Kobe Bryant is currently on is undermining my argument with reckless abandon. The fact that Kevin Garnett just picked up the All-Star Game MVP isn’t helping either. Nor is Jermaine O’Neal’s ascendance to superstardom. Tracy McGrady is too good for words, and he never bothered with college.

But at the same time, there is always Eddy Curry. He stinks. Kedrick Brown isn’t real good either. Kwame Brown shouldn’t exactly print up the invitations to his Hall of Fame induction quite yet. DeSagana Diop is averaging almost two points a game. Yeah, he was ready to jump straight to the pros.

At best, LeBron is going to become a superstar in like four or five years, the same amount of time it took Kobe and KG and T-Mac to blossom into the dynamos they are now. So why on earth do I have to hear about LeBron all of the time right now? If a movie company decided to make a movie that was billed as the single greatest movie of all time, period, no questions asked, would they start running ads for it four or five years in advance?

All the media has done to poor LeBron is practically guarantee his failure. Short of becoming the greatest player ever to set foot on the hardwood, is there any way he can live up to the expectations set for him? How much more likely is LeBron to end up like Shooter from Hoosiers than Michael Jordan? Can’t you just see him sitting in some diner ten years from now, telling everyone he meets how he was on the cover of Sports Illustrated and was the number one pick in the NBA draft? “Let her fly . in and out of the league in five years . I was fouled by the media.” Sad.

His handling of his burgeoning celebrity hasn’t been a positive indicator of his future in the NBA. He has already shown a dangerous propensity to be cozy with boosters and other people who want a piece of his star power. Just imagine what will happen when he gets millions of dollars in his pocket; it’s going to be The M.C. Hammer Story all over again. If the size of James’ ego doesn’t set records, the size of his posse probably will.

So, whoever runs ESPN and Sports Illustrated, if you’re reading, please leave this kid (and me) alone. I don’t want to hear about him again until he stops playing against high school kids and if the hype doesn’t die down, he has next to no chance of living up to it. Talk about something that’s definitely going to happen in the foreseeable future, like baseball or something.

And stop putting high school basketball games on national television. Give me more Slamball.

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