James should do what is best for him

By Matt Hill

Star Staff
mhill@starhq.com

   He's without a doubt the best high school basketball player in the country.
   He was recently showcased on ESPN 2.
   He has been on the cover of Sports Illustrated and ESPN The Magazine.
   But despite all of these accolades, some basketball experts still think they know what's best for LeBron James.
   James is almost certain to be the No. 1 pick in the NBA Draft next year, but a couple of ESPN basketball analysts believe he should wait about four more years.
   If you saw his St. Mary's-St. Vincent team defeat No. 1 ranked Oak Hill Academy last week, you know how good James is.
   He scored 31 points, created opportunities for his teammates, and had one of the most electrifying dunks I have ever seen by a high school player.
   There's no doubt in my mind that he could play in the NBA today.
   Enter Dick Vitale and Bill Walton. Yes, the obnoxious ESPN basketball analysts.
   Vitale and Walton disagreed with what James is most likely going to do, and that is enter the NBA Draft right out of high school.
   Now before I get all the area educators in an uproar, let me say that I am all for education. I think that if people can go to college, they should.
   But this is one exception to the rule. During the telecast, James talked about how his family has moved from project to project in the Akron, Ohio area throughout the years.
   It sounds like this family deserves to be rich and soon. Walton and Vitale see it differently.
   Vitale and Walton hammered down our throats that James should stay in school. Walton went as far to say that James should go to UCLA, his alma-mater.
   But here is what I don't understand about these opinions. Walton and Vitale are rich men that don't have to worry about putting food on the table.
   James has the talent to maybe start in the NBA right away, and the last guys that should tell him to wait four years should be Walton and Vitale.
   If James shouldn't be a pro player right away, then how come the media, which includes ESPN, already treats him like Michael Jordan?
   His game with Oak Hill Academy was televised live with ESPN's top NBA analyst and college basketball analyst doing the contest. Kobe Bryant and Jordan never had a high school game on the ESPN family of networks.
   ESPN thought enough of James to put his game on television, so the network must think it knows what's best for the young man.
   I simply think it is a conflict of interest for Vitale and Walton to tell a young man what to do with his life, just as it was for CBS to let Walton do his son's (Arizona's Luke Walton) NCAA Tournament games a couple of years back.
   I do have a lot of respect for Vitale. I think he seems to have a good heart, and he brings a lot of enthusiasm to the games. But I just don't agree with a rich man telling a poor kid what to do.
   If something happened to James while in the NBA, he would have the money to go back to school. I recommend that once his pro career is over, to go back and get that degree.
   But in the meantime, don't listen to the media. Do what's best for LeBron James.