Friday, January 17, 2003

From The Brain of The Giant Head

King James: The Chosen One
And His Hummer

Not too terribly long ago, I celebrated my 18th birthday. I was a young punk and asked my parents for a car, preferably something I wouldn’t be too embarrassed to drive like a Honda or Toyota. Instead, they gave me a gift that dances in every child’s dreams. They gave me a blue ballpoint pen. And I used that pen to write my parents a thank you letter that included the phrases "You Suck" and "I’ll show you where you can shove this pen."

If only I could play basketball well like LeBron.

LeBron James is a high school senior with a gift known as "basketball skilz." This kid was better than everyone else in the country three years ago when he was 15. He knew it. His mom knew it. His high school began charging other schools $10,000 to play them because they knew it. And now the entire country knows how good LeBron is. Why? Politics and international affairs don’t sell newspapers like they once did.

Now, LeBron has been making headlines all year, which is unusual. He is the first high school basketball star to gain national attention. He’s been on the cover of Sports Illustrated. Every radio show has discussed him. He’s even had three of his high school games televised on ESPN2, and the ratings for all three games were higher than all but two collegiate games this year. Only one thought comes to my mind.

What in the *#%$ were we thinking?

Many people complain that we put too much pressure on young kids in sports, pushing them harder to live out our dreams of being the professional athlete we never became. Lucky for my child, I had bigger dreams of becoming a team’s mascot. So I will impose rigorous training in wearing giant furry costumes for 4 hours a day and have him practice falling on his face for a laugh. Maybe he can become the Reds new mascot (What the hell is that thing, anyway?).

But a mascot is exactly what we’ve turned LeBron into. He’s not playing for the love of the game like he used to. He’s playing for his high school to exploit him for economic gain. He’s playing for ESPN to exploit him for economic gain. And the NBA (National Boring Association) is exploiting him because they know Air Jordan will be gone next year and without his Airness, no one will watch pro basketball because it sucks.

That is, unless King James takes the throne.

Although no fuss was made over the pen I received on the 18th anniversary of my birth, controversy erupted last week as LeBron’s mother, a poor woman that lives in a house the size of an egg carton, took out a loan and gave her son a brand new Hummer, equipped with 3 TVs and a video game hookup. A Frickin’ HUMMER!!!

The high school athletic something or other is looking into the loan she received, because if the car was a gift from an outside source then LeBron loses his amateur eligibility to play in high school and in college. Though, everyone knows Lebron isn’t going to college. I wouldn’t either if I knew $35 million was awaiting my arrival in the NBA.

Honestly, I’ve heard arguments from both sides about the car controversy. He should be suspended. He should be labeled ineligible. He should get to keep his car. He did nothing wrong. And after lots of deep thought over a bag of Cheetos, I think the kid deserves his Hummer and we should all just leave him alone like my prom date chose to do. Everyone else is making boatloads of money off the kid, and I stress kid, so why can’t he bask in any of the benefits? Why can’t he enjoy any of the cash generated from his "basketball skilz?" Why can’t he drive the ugliest car in the world, which exhausts gas quicker than a dad after eating chili, if he chooses to?

LeBron may never make it in the NBA. And our expectations for him are so high that if he doesn’t duplicate the success of Michael Jordan, we will verbally destroy this kid and ruin his mind. And he’ll end up in jail with Bubba, his future husband. So let the kid enjoy what he can now, cause two years from now he could be collecting your garbage every Monday morning.

And in retrospect that pen wasn’t such a bad gift for my birthday after all. I used it to poke holes in all the tires of the car my parents gave my sister for her 18th birthday.