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ESPN's David Aldridge expects LeBron James to be the No. 1 pick despite being ruled ineligible for the rest of the season.
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LeBron's trouble began with Hummer


Jan. 31
I was saddened by the news of LeBron James' suspension. But I certainly was not shocked by it.

LeBron-mania has been a circus, and we're all guilty of it. Everyone was curious to see him perform, and I don't blame the people at ESPN for putting him on television. There was a legitimate contract between the school, the network and a promoter.

It got out of hand, though. He and his team were going all over the country, and there are still contracts for him to play. It will be an interesting situation to follow, with tickets sold and the anticipation of seeing this future NBA star play.

I really think his mother and the people around LeBron created a nightmare by giving him the Hummer. His problems started with the purchase of that vehicle.
James has to be accountable for his actions. There are lots of people responsible for this unfortunate situation, but let's face it, he's not a little kid and he took a picture for the store in exchange for the jerseys he was given. I believe the people at the store were getting excited about knowing LeBron and establishing a future relationship down the line. Maybe somebody at the store was thinking about getting a piece of the action.

I hope the appeal process will help resolve this problem. If James gave back the jerseys, maybe the Ohio commission would cut the suspension down to a game or two. I wouldn't want to see his teammates penalized with James sidelined by losing out on a possible state championship. I'd like to give the young man the benefit of the doubt.

Think about this scenario. The kid walks into the store as a big star, and someone there gives him the two jerseys if he just takes a picture. Seems simple enough. Let's face it: This kid is looking at $25 million come the end of March.

I don't know all the details. To me, if he gives back the jerseys and there is no finding of other violations such as free lodging or benefits, you don't declare him ineligible for the rest of the season.

I really think his mother and the people around LeBron created a nightmare by giving him the Hummer. His problems started with the purchase of that vehicle.

Forget about the legality of it, it was a dumb decision. I don't know what the support people were thinking -- the family, friends, administrators and others around him. Here's a kid driving a Hummer, which is a slap in everyone's face. He's saying, "Look at me, America, I've made it and I'm on top of the world."

That opened up scrutiny -- and a can of worms. There was an anti-Lebron James element, and there's no doubt that there were groups in the area hoping the kid would lose his eligibility. There also was jealousy, and it was related to the Hummer.

As a parent, the Hummer was a problem to me because it had the potential for an accident, because there are reportedly three televisions in the vehicle. Think about a bunch of teenagers piling in, wanting to watch with the TVs. You're sitting there with a potential trap for a major accident.

If James doesn't have the Hummer, I don't think we have this as an issue.

Will James be able to play in the McDonald's All-America game? Remember, the game is at Gund Arena, with 19,000 tickets sold and expectations running wild in Cleveland. Last year, Shelden Williams (now at Duke) was left off the McDonald's roster because he was ineligible for his high school team.

Do you think there will be some pressure to let James play? Since he's ineligible in high school, could he be left out of this game?

You'd like to think people have warned James about these situations. His school, St. Vincent-St. Mary, has to be accountable too. The school's hoop team is going across America making lots of money. I don't like the way they've raised ticket prices. I have a problem with the team going all over the nation.

Years ago, high-school players didn't get this kind of notoriety. Now there are scouting services, camps and the like, so everyone learns about these kids so early. There's talk of these kids in the eighth, ninth and tenth grades! I went to a game in Kentucky and they were talking about an eighth-grader. Writers were asking all sorts of questions about him.

That's why the support people have to provide the necessary care instead of being a bunch of groupies, giving the kid whatever he wants.

I spent time with LeBron James at the St. Vincent-St. Mary game I announced for ESPN, and he seemed to be genuine. I talked to him alone about good decisions, about people being leeches and wanting to have a piece of the action. I told him to find out what Kobe Bryant and Kevin Garnett did, because they had good people around them.

You hope and pray that you make an impression. The whole situation is very sad.

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