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LeBron, Draymond pick apart NCAA after passing of California bill

MediaNews Group/Torrance Daily Breeze via Getty Images / MediaNews Group / Getty

LeBron James' endorsement to secure financial compensation for student-athletes was rewarded Monday when California Gov. Gavin Newsom signed SB 206 into law - on James' own show, no less - allowing NCAA players in the state to profit off their own image and likeness starting in 2023.

At the Los Angeles Lakers' practice later in the day, James, notably wearing a shirt emblazoned with "More than an athlete" on the front, offered a personal insight into why he wants to see student-athletes compensated despite never attending college himself.

"Because I was one of those underprivileged kids. Obviously I was fortunate enough and talented enough to be able to skip college," he said, courtesy of ESPN's Dave McMenamin. "But for sure I would've been one of those kids if I would have went off to Ohio State or I 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 game (in) 2004. The Schottenstein Center would have been sold out every single night if I was there ... Me and my mom, we didn't have anything. We wouldn't have been able to benefit at all from it. The university would have been able to capitalize on everything that I would have been there for that year or two or whatever. I understand what those kids are going through. I feel for those kids who have been going through it for so long, so that's why it's personal to me."

The former first overall pick wasn't the only NBA star to sound off on the NCAA.

Golden State Warriors forward Draymond Green, who played four seasons at Michigan State from 2008-12, compared the organization to an authoritarian government and commended James' involvement in the passing of the California bill.

"It does not make any sense," Green said Monday. "Someone needs to force this dictatorship to change because that's exactly what it is. It's no different than any country ran by dictators. The NCAA is a dictatorship.

"I think it's great for him. I think it was amazing to see that done on 'Uninterrupted,' and the platform - that's exactly what the platform was built about."

James has been a critic of the NCAA's long-standing system that revokes athletes' eligibility if they're found to have been paid by schools, agents, or other third parties. In February 2018, he criticized the entire organization as "corrupt" in the wake of the FBI's probe into illicit methods of recruitment and fraud.

He again rebuked the association this past summer after it implemented new criteria for agents, requiring them to own a bachelor's degree in order to be certified. James' own agent Rich Paul never received a degree, and James referred to the new provision as "The Rich Paul Rule."

A week later, the NCAA amended it's certification requirements, making a bachelor's degree optional provided the agent is already certified and in good standing with the NBA players' union.

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