LeBron James reinstated

Feb. 5, 2003 at 2:14 PM
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AKRON, Ohio, Feb. 5 (UPI) -- LeBron James, considered the best high school basketball player in the nation, will not have to sit out the balance of his senior campaign after all.

On Wednesday, a judge ordered the Ohio State Athletic Association to restore James' eligibility after he serves a two-game suspension. The OHSAA ruled last Friday that James had violated amateur bylaws when he accepted clothing with a value of about $850 as a gift from a store in the Cleveland area.

James appealed the decision on Tuesday, and Summit County Common Pleas Judge James Williams ruled that the suspension will include a game that James missed on Sunday.

His school, Saint Vincent-Saint Mary, has until Thursday to tell the judge what other game James will miss.

"LeBron admitted his mistake, but he did not commit a crime," said Fred Nance, James' attorney. "He did not hurt anyone."

Williams granted a temporary restraining order which allows James to play, and scheduled a hearing for Feb. 19 in which he will decide whether to grant a permanent injunction or go to trial.

OHSAA Commissioner Clair Muscaro issued his ruling because rules forbid athletes from receiving any kind of apparel worth more than $100.

According to various reports, the merchandise was a pair of "throwback" jerseys. One was of Chicago Bears Hall of Famer Gale Sayers, and the other was of former Washington Bullets center Wes Unseld.

St. Vincent-St. Mary has four regular season games remaining in its season, plus playoffs, and is slated to play in a game Saturday in Trenton, N.J.

James also is scheduled to play in the EA Sports Roundball Classic at the United Center in Chicago on March 31. That contest is run by well-known hoops guru Sonny Vaccaro, who also works for adidas, which is in a battle with fellow sneaker and apparel giant Nike for James' services. There have been reports that James would receive $25 million for his first deal with an apparel company.

The OHSAA ruled early last week James did not violate any state bylaws by accepting a Hummer H2 vehicle, which has a base retail price of $50,000, from his mother, which she said was a present for his 18th birthday.

James' mother, Gloria, said she obtained a bank loan to buy the SUV, even though she is unemployed, and provided financial information to the OHSAA for its investigation.

James already has said he is not going to college, and hoops analysts think he will be the No. 1 pick in this year's NBA draft.

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