Every other player in the league could go to a college basketball game and it would be seen as harmless. LeBron goes to a college basketball game and the narrative changes to him trying to recruit a player.
Over the weekend LeBron James and his agent/friend Rich Paul raised eyebrows when they were spotted seated courtside watching the Duke Blue Devils take on Virginia.
On Friday, The King and Rich Paul spoke with ESPN and they both sounded pretty upset that people were insinuating that they were there to recruit Zion instead of just being there to watch a basketball game.
“A recruiting trip? I didn’t talk to anybody,” James told ESPN.
“They’re only saying that because it’s Rich. When Shaq came to see me play in high school, when A.I. came to see me play in high school, they weren’t saying it was a recruiting trip then. But because it’s Rich Paul and LeBron, now it’s a recruitment trip.
“Now Rich is a threat to everybody, and they look at it and they want to keep trying to jab my agent and jab my friend. And what is he doing that’s wrong? They don’t say that about no other agent when other guys go see [players]. They don’t say that about no other agent, but my guy because he’s a threat.
“And he’s African-American, too. Throw that in there.”
Paul pointed out how perception has changed since he and James attended college games in the past.
“All I care about is respect,” Paul told ESPN. “That’s all. We were just enjoying a basketball game. Didn’t talk to nobody. Didn’t do anything or nothing. But it’s an issue when you see several media people shining a light on it as if it’s a negative thing. But when I was one of his homeboys, one of his ‘posse’ and we went to see Steph Curry in Detroit (for a Davidson-Wisconsin NCAA tournament game in 2008), nobody said anything. Nobody said nothing.”
“Think about it from this perspective,” he said. “On one end, you got a ‘posse.’ Or they’re ‘leeches.’ Years ago it was leeches or ‘hanger-ons.’ They’re OK when they can call you that, but they’re not OK when it’s a CEO and you have the biggest superstar in the world supporting somebody that he trusts to do his business off the court and just who happens to be a friend.”