LeBron James' longtime friend and business partner, Maverick Carter, said the NBA star would have held off on entering the NBA draft right out of St. Vincent-St. Mary High School had there been measures in place like bill SB 206 intends to implement.
"I think if you got paid, you would have went to play college basketball," Carter said on the latest episode of "The Shop," the lively, barbershop-style discussion show produced by James' and Carter's media company, Uninterrupted.
"It would have been fun," James said in agreement.
It's too late for James to suit up for March Madness, but the Los Angeles Lakers star is focused on the next generation of athletes maximizing their earning potential during their time on college campuses.
California governor Gavin Newsom signed SB 206, commonly referred to as the Fair Pay to Play Act, while a guest on "The Shop" this week. Beginning in 2023, the law says colleges in California cannot punish their athletes for collecting endorsement money. James said on Twitter that he was "incredibly proud" to be a part of the groundswell supporting the bill.
I'm so incredibly proud to share this moment with all of you. @gavinnewsom came to The Shop to do something that will change the lives for countless athletes who deserve it! @uninterrupted hosted the formal signing for SB 206 allowing college athletes to responsibly get paid. pic.twitter.com/NZQGg6PY9d— LeBron James (@KingJames) September 30, 2019
James' agent, Rich Paul of Klutch Sports, appeared on the episode and said that beyond the compensation college athletes can earn, the basic business fluency that can be gleaned from the process behind negotiating deals is another benefit the players can take with them long past their school days.
James discussed the law and its implications after Lakers' practice on Monday while wearing a T-shirt with his slogan, "More Than An Athlete," printed on the front.
Here's what we had to say:
LeBron's response to the law:
"I think it's a great day. I think it's a win, obviously, in California. Like I said, I'm just honored to be a part of it and be with the governor and for him to understand what a lot of these athletes have been going through for so many years. So, it's a start of something that we believe is special."
Why this is an important issue for him:
"I was one of those underprivileged kids. Obviously, I was fortunate enough and talented enough to be able to skip college. But for sure I would have been one of those kids if I would have went off to Ohio State or if I would have 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 have known the likeness. My body would have been on the NCAA basketball [video] game 2004 and the Schottenstein Center would have been sold out every single night if I was there.
"And coming from just me and my mom, we didn't have anything and we wouldn't have been able to benefit at all from it, and the university would have been able to capitalize on everything that I would have been there for that year or two or whatever. So I understand what those kids are going through. I feel for those kids that have been going through it for so long, so that's why it's personal to me."
Why this is happening now:
"Well, listen, it's the opportunity. Timing is everything, and the timing is now. You don't sit back and say, 'OK, the beginning of the 2019-20 season is when we want to do it.' I think it's just timing, and the timing was right."
How Newsom got on "The Shop" and what's next:
"We have a pretty good platform these days. So that's how it came about. We have a pretty good platform. People respect what we're doing at Uninterrupted, so that's how it came about.
"I think it's just a mutual respect about what we're both trying to accomplish. And like I said, we have a platform that reaches a lot of people, and we've been trying to let people know that we have a place where athletes can be heard and athletes can become powerful in their own right. So it means a lot, and it was an honor to have the governor come on our show to sign such a -- what we believe -- a historical change in time.
"So, like I said, we're here at the Lakers facility, and I don't want to take away from what I'm here [for] now. This is the season, this is the Lakers, but it's a great day, we believe, going forward. And it's up to, now, it's the [NCAA's] turn to step up."