LeBron James had a front-row seat as California governor Gavin Newsom signed CA-SB206 into state law on HBO’s “The Shop.” The law, which will go into effect in 2023, gives college athletes the right to profit off their name and likeness.
The bill’s signing into law set up a long battle with the NCAA, but in the meantime, it was a major step against the NCAA’s philosophy of profiting off unpaid college athletes in the name of “amateurism.”
Speaking to reporters on Monday, LeBron explained what it would have been like had he attended Ohio State instead of going to the NBA out of high school. The structure that is currently taking advantage of thousands of college athletes would have reaped the benefits of LeBron James’ time in college.
“That ’23’ jersey would’ve been sold all over the place without my name on the back …”
LeBron explains what it would’ve been like if he went to college, and why the Fair Pay to Play Act is personal to him. (via @mcten) pic.twitter.com/Mmqp8N5EmH
— SportsCenter (@SportsCenter) September 30, 2019
“For sure I would have been one of those kids if I would have went off to Ohio State or if I went off to any one of these big-time colleges where pretty much that 23 jersey would have got sold all over the place without my name on the back. But everybody would’ve known the likeness. My body would have been on the NCAA basketball game, 2004. The Schottenstein Center would have been sold out every single night if I was there. Coming from just 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.
“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.”
And there’s no denying what LeBron said there.
If you just look at Zion Williamson’s experience at Duke, it was a heavily commercialized year that generated millions for Duke, Nike and the NCAA. When Williamson’s sneaker exploded during the North Carolina game, Nike’s stock even took a hit the following day. Yet, Williamson couldn’t profit until he left Duke.
It’s a landscape that has always been unfair for college athletes. LeBron knows that — as does California.
Follow For The Win’s Andrew Joseph on Twitter @AndyJ0seph.
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Is a national and foreign correspondent based in D.C. She files investigative reports and covers breaking news on a range of topics, including corruption, police shootings, etc. Before joining the TimWorld in 2018, she worked at the Miami Herald. She was a John S. Knight fellow at Stanford University.