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The Tentacle


June 5, 2003

Help Along The Road Of Life

Derek Shackelford

High school phenom Lebron James will, in all likelihood, be the selected No. 1 in this monthís NBA draft. The Cleveland Cavaliers garnered the first pick via lottery in the middle of May.

Team spokesmen have said that they will draft Mr. James. Thus he will be fortunate enough to play in his home state.

Many basketball analysts have stated that Mr. James may be the best high school player that they have ever seen. This is a pretty high accolade considering the great players that have bounced a basketball.

The pressure for him to perform could reach astronomical proportions. The first player selected is an honor in itself, let alone at the tender age of 18.

As a current high school basketball coach and former athlete, many people have asked what do I think about this situation, as if I am qualified to answer. People have asked me what advice do you give an 18-year-old professional athlete? Keep in mind that Mr. James is already a millionaire before he scores his first basket. The Nike shoe company has inked him to a $90 million contract to don its athletic apparel. Nike has decided that his athletic prowess is worth the investment.

In fact, three shoe companies offered huge amounts of money to woo Mr. James into modeling its products. Adidas, Nike, and Reebok put their best bids forward in an attempt to grab this teenage superstar, simply because he could jump, run, and shoot.

Lebron James was dined and paraded in front of these companies based upon these physical gifts, not because of his brains, wisdom, or intelligence, but simply for his athleticism.

Donít go there, Derek. As we would say in the barbershop, I ainít hatiní on Lebron. I wish him the best of success, rip the league up, and shows heís got game.

I just wonder if Mr. James had used the power that he holds to make sure Nike lives up to its end of the deal. If Lebron is receiving $90 million, then how much is Nike going to rake in? All of this simply because he can jump, run, and shoot a basketball.

As a culture, we will bemoan how unfortunate this may be, but we will run to the store to participate in Nikeís campaign of "Just Do It." Nike simply understands, in business terms, to "use what you got to get what you need."

Oh, the advice that I would give to Lebron James as a small town high school coach? If I can just help somebody along lifeís path, then my living wonít be in vain.

Now that is money that you can take to the bank.



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