On the latest episode of Kevin Durant’s ESPN+ show ‘The Boardroom,’ KD sat down with Lebron James and James’ close friend Maverick Carter, to discuss the business behind basketball and the early lessons they learned.
LeBron described the first time he realized that money was being made off of his likeness, profiting off his skillset while he was a high school sophomore. He said, “Freshman year to my sophomore year they moved our home games to the [University of Akron]… My first game of my sophomore year was at the University of Akron and there like 6,000 people… and they sell season tickets. Right then and there as a sophomore at 15-years-old I knew that this was a business.”
Carter, who is also LeBron’s former high school teammate, recalled how the school district and the state of Ohio had LeBron’s games for purchase via pay-per-view for in-state viewers. “His senior year they actually put the games on pay-per-view. You could watch LeBron James games anywhere in the state if you paid like ten bucks,” Carter said.
Durant admitted that he only went to college because of the “one-and-done” rule, which was in effect before he graduated from high school. In his single year at the University of Texas, KD earned one of the best seasons in NCAA history, averaging 25.8 points, 11.1 rebounds, 1.3 assists. He said he feels that because of his popularity, the NCAA and the Longhorns purposely exploited his likeness for a financial gain that only benefited them.
KD said, “I seen a 35 jersey on the rack and I’m just wondering like, why my name’s not on the back of it. Everybody knows this is my jersey and it was just kind of confusing at that point because it was this in-between period where it was like is this always about ball, or they might be making money on the other side of this too. So I didn’t know who to turn to, I had no guidance, and I was going to the NBA the next year. So it was like, I just want to play ball.”
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