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First step

James says he'll decide his future soon

Posted: Wednesday April 16, 2003 5:42 PM
Updated: Wednesday April 16, 2003 6:22 PM
  LeBron James LeBron James will hope to follow Jordan's example in the Capital Classic. AP

WASHINGTON (AP) -- LeBron James watched Michael Jordan say farewell to Washington Wizards fans earlier this week and couldn't help but think about his future.

"Within the next two weeks, I'm going to try to sit down with my family and make a decision about what I'm gonna do ... so everything starts flowing," he said.

The 6-8, 240-pound guard-forward from Akron St. Vincent-St. Mary said Tuesday that he would announce his decision about his basketball intentions by the end of this month.

The 18-year-old also must decide among Nike, Adidas and Reebok, who are competing for his endorsement. Industry experts have estimated James will command a shoe contract worth $20 million or more.

James is in Washington this week for the Jordan Capital Classic high school all-star game Thursday.

By playing in the game, his third all-star game following his senior year, he will be ineligible to play college basketball for a year, according to NCAA rules. The NCAA only allows two all-star games to remain eligible.

James has until May 15 to declare himself eligible for the June 26 NBA draft. The draft lottery is May 22.

James was among the sellout crowd Monday night at the MCI Center in Washington that bid goodbye to the retiring Jordan.

As the senior watched the video tributes to his 40-year-old basketball hero, he couldn't help but dream about what his basketball career might look like in 20 years.

"With Michael Jordan being my role model ... you have no choice (but) to fantasize to the future," James said.

Two weeks ago, Jordan spoke critically about James' ability.

Among Jordan's comments to the Denver Post was "Once he gets to this level, I don't think he's in the upper echelon of two-guards or small forwards."

Jordan also said before a game in Cleveland last week that he didn't know whether James or Syracuse freshman Carmelo Anthony should be the first pick in the draft.

Asked about Jordan's comments, James said: "Michael Jordan is the greatest basketball player ever and ... if anybody in the world can criticize somebody, it can be Michael Jordan. There's no way I'm going to get mad at Michael Jordan criticizing me. There's no way.

"Michael Jordan is like a dad. If Michael Jordan is going to tell anybody to do something -- the players, the media, the coaches -- you should do it. Simple as that."


 
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