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YOU GOTTA CARRY THAT WEIGHT
Jack McCallum
October 27, 2003
Can an 18-year-old shoulder the burden of a league, a city and a few corporations?
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October 27, 2003

You Gotta Carry That Weight

Can an 18-year-old shoulder the burden of a league, a city and a few corporations?

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At times James seems just like any other 18-year-old. You can get him talking about his high school football days ("I could've been an NFL receiver, even though I didn't like getting hit") and his flair for art ("I drew up the design for our uniforms all four years in high school"); you can see his interest is piqued when he learns that Jordan, Tiger and Charles Barkley stay in touch with one another constantly via cellphone. ("I've never met Tiger, but I like to watch him compete.") But in the next moment he must turn into an adult and ponder the complications presented by extravagant fame and fortune.

James says he feels comfortable and protected, assured that those who are watching his back and watching his money have his best interests at heart. "Sure, outside people will want to get to know me, because it's happened already," he says. "I'll sit down and talk to them because I'm not standoffish. But I can recognize the people who are true to me and the people who aren't. Right now what I have to do is take care of business on the court and let everybody else worry about things away from basketball. It was a dream come true to me to make it here, to get to the NBA this early, the answer to all my prayers."

A cynic named Oscar Wilde once noted, though, "When the gods wish to punish us, they answer our prayers." James's seemingly limitless talent has brought him this far this fast, but he will need so much more—integrity, sound advice, foresight and plain good fortune—to claim his postion as one of the Chosen Ones. He's off to an encouraging start, but it's a long and complex journey.

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