Editor’s note: This story was part of our April Fool’s edition of the paper and is entirely satirical.
In a widely-anticipated press conference this week, NBA legend Lebron James shocked the world by giving a verbal commitment to play college basketball for the Omaha Mavericks next year.
In light of his prior decision to skip college to enter the 2003 NBA draft, James has decided to exit the NBA and take advantage of his remaining four years of NCAA eligibility. He will attempt to put the entire team on his shoulders on the way to the 2019 Final Four. This will be the first time in the history of the game that an NBA starter will voluntarily fall to the college level to play basketball.
“Lebron is excited to set the precedent for other aging professional players who still want to feel like they’re on top,” said James’ new agent, Lavar Ball. “Also, my sons and I can now take over the NBA, so that’s a plus.”
Lebron James has won several awards over his career in the NBA, including three NBA championships, four MVP awards, two Olympic gold medals, and the NBA Rookie of the Year award.
According to Ball, Lebron was initially considering moving to another NBA team. Teams on the final list of consideration were Oklahoma City, Los Angeles and Houston. After considering all of his options, James instead chose a college degree, and a chance to take a struggling team to the top, before finally retiring.
While James has not yet selected a major, reports indicate that he may be interested in studying “retirement strategy.” While this is not an offered area of study currently at the university, officials confirm that plans are in the works to create a new program dedicated to studying the habits and tendencies of retired professional sports athletes.
Reporters speculate that the reasoning behind the move had to do with an insatiable drive for accomplishment. Taking Omaha to the top would certainly accomplish that – the Maverick team failed to garner 10 wins last season, a first in the program’s Division I history. “I just know that Lebron will take us to the NCAA’s,” stated UNO student Makenzie Cartwright. “My only concern is that the other players will try to actually contribute. Just give James the ball every time, don’t even touch it!”
University officials have also confirmed that arena expansion blueprints are being drafted in order to expand Baxter Arena. Estimated attendance for the opening home game of the 2018-19 season hovers around 40,000 – 10 times that of the current arena capacity.
Las Vegas bookies currently have the odds of Omaha winning the 2019 NCAA March Madness tournament at 2-to-1 (for comparison, early Duke odds have opened at 5-to-1). One bookie commented, “As long as Maverick Head Coach Derrin Hansen directs the rest of the team to pass Lebron the ball at the onset of every possession, there is nothing stopping him from not only winning the Summit League, but also dominating every team on the court.” The anonymous source estimated that Omaha would average 150 points per game next season.
South Dakota State player Mike Daum (two-time Summit League player of the year) was not immediately available for comment. Rumors suggest that Daum is mourning the loss of his dominance in the conference.