In 1992, Shaquille O'Neal blew that out of the water, signing with Reebok for $10 million.
In 1996, Allen Iverson, who all but invented the concept of "street cred," got a mind-boggling $20 million.
Of course they had all been to college (Jordan and O'Neal for three years, Iverson for one).
On the bright side for James, his high school days are almost over. He graduates this weekend, literally as well as figuratively.
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Mark Heisler's projected draft for the 13 teams in Thursday's lottery:
*--* Pos Team Player Comment 1 Cleveland LeBRON JAMES St. Vin.-St. Mary H.S The moribund Cavaliers strike it rich with the local hero 2 Detroit* CARMELO ANTHONY Syracuse Tough choice but they go for the NCAA tournament standout with the star quality 3 Denver DARKO MILICIC Hemofarm Vrsac No booby prize. He's 7-0, 245 and talented 4 Toronto CHRIS KAMAN Central Michigan The draft falls off here but he's a 7-footer, meaning Antonio Davis can go back to power forward, making them a big team again 5 Miami CHRIS BOSH Georgia Tech Young and reedy but 6-10 and athletic 6 Clippers MICKAEL PIETRUS Pau Orthez Big, athletic French combo guard. The draft really falls off here and they finished just out of the money for the premium big players 7 Chicago DWYANE WADE Marquette Will try to trade the pick. If they can't, let's say they take this semi-local product who can do the dirty work for their young scorers 8 Milwaukee** NICK COLLISON Kansas He'd be bigger, younger and quieter than Anthony Mason 9 New York MACIEJ LAMPE Real Madrid With Antonio McDyess' return uncertain, we'll say they gamble on the best available big man and it's this 7-foot, 18-year-old Pole 10 Washington T.J. FORD Texas The pros have never fallen for a tiny point guard the way they have for this one 11 Golden St PAVEL PODKOLZIN Metris Varese An 18-year-old Russian project but he's 7-1, 300 12 Seattle KIRK HINRICH Kansas After trading Gary Payton, they need a point guard 13 Memphis*** JARVIS HAYES Georgia Athlete who can shoot *fr om Gri zzl ies for Oti s Tho rpe in 199 7; **f rom Atl ant a for Gle nn Rob ins on in 200 2; *** fro m Hou sto n for Ste ve Fra nci s in 199 9