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Why LeBron James Says College Basketball Should Be More Like the NBA

It comes down to fairness.


California just passed the Fair Pay to Play Act, a first-of-its-kind law that would allow college athletes to profit off of their names, images, and likenesses. In a sense, this would make the NCAA a little more like the NBA, and LeBron James is all for it. Here’s why.

LeBron James, who of course did not attend college, has nevertheless been one of its fiercest advocates, activism he explained to reporters yesterday with a hypothetical: what if he, like high school basketball players today, had attended college.

“That ’23’ jersey would have got sold all over the place without my name on the back but everybody would have known the likeness. My body would’ve been on the NCAA basketball game, [and] the Schottenstein Center would have been sold out every single night if I was there,” he told reporters at Lakers Media Day.

James, a savvy businessman, is right to point out how much Ohio State or any other college would have benefitted financially from his presence. He contrasts that with the financial state of his family.

“Coming from, just from me and my mom, we didn’t have anything. We wouldn’t have been able to benefit at all from it, and the university would’ve been able to capitalize on everything that I would’ve been there for that year or two or whatever, so I understand what those kids are going through. I feel for those kids who’ve been going through it for so long, so that’s why it was personal to me.”

It was so personal that James hosted California Governor Gavin Newsom on his HBO show The Shop, where he signed the actual bill, which was passed unanimously by the state legislature.

The bill is scheduled to go into effect in 2023, and that’s only if it survives what is sure to be an onslaught of legal challenges. The bill seems to have a much better shot when athletes like James (and Draymond Green and Richard Sherman and Steph Curry, all of whom also support the bill) speak up in its favor.