James’ Life Seems to Be Humming Right Along


So a few weeks ago LeBron James, a high school basketball player in Cleveland, comes to Pauley Pavilion for a game, and he draws a capacity crowd of fans, including scouts and agents.

The next thing we hear: 310 Motoring, a big-time Los Angeles area car company that has customized expensive cars for the likes of Britney Spears, Keyshawn Johnson and Master P, has an order to ship a customized $100,000 Hummer H2 to Cleveland so James’ mother can present it to him for his 18th birthday.

As you might expect, it causes quite an uproar, and now a number of pointed questions are being asked like, “Do you really expect me to show up to Staples Center to shoot three-pointers against Kobe Bryant driving a used Ford Escort?”


Every father probably has a kid who takes after their mother, and the good-parenting manual says you’re supposed to love the kid who takes after their mother as much as the other kid that you really like.

I suppose I could give that a try but then I wonder if I’d have anything left when it comes to embracing the Grocery Store Bagger as a part of the family.


IT’S PEOPLE like James’ mother, Gloria, who make life so difficult for parents like you and me who have convinced our kids there’s only so much we can do for them. Until this week the daughter was thrilled driving the Bagger around in the Ford Escort I had passed down to her.

In fact, I would have to say it was a customized Escort, broken in as it was with only 70,000 miles on it, and that was before she added the dents to each side -- really making it look like the kind of car a kid of mine would own.

But then she read the newspaper -- I presume out loud so the Bagger could also know what’s going on -- and noticed a story that has some people doubting whether Gloria could afford a $50,000 birthday gift for her son.

She also read that Gloria had a Hummer H2 shipped to Cleveland from Los Angeles, and from the same dealer that provided Kobe with his jazzed-up car, and she wants to know why she’s not shooting against Kobe for a Hummer H2.


I told her Kobe’s “chicken,” of course, because he’s something like 0 for 5 from long range since I got him to set the NBA record. And now that he’s expecting the birth of his own daughter next month, I explained, I’ve already warned him how much money it takes to raise a girl. (I think he’s considering naming the child, “T.J.,” as thanks for saving his career, but I hope he understands it’s really not necessary.)


TALKING TO Kobe about the birth of his child, I got sentimental and recalled when my daughter was cute and couldn’t talk yet. It got me to thinking that if Gloria had no money and could still afford an expensive car for her son, probably drawing a loan against his potential as a big-time NBA player one day, maybe I could do the same for my kid. She’s obviously a better three-point shooter than Kobe, and Kobe is leading all players in All-Star balloting. That’s got to be worth something.

So I went to 310 Motoring on Tuesday afternoon, and took no offense when I was asked to park my Honda Accord around the block so as to not hurt their business.

On the walls are jerseys and pictures of many of their clients, including Elton Brand, Mike Bibby and Scottie Pippen along with pictures of Jennifer Lopez, Janet Jackson and Queen Latifah. I asked if they had any sportswriters for clients, and the office personnel laughed.

In the adjacent garage, work was being done on the $300,000 Ferrari belonging to Indianapolis Pacer Jermaine O’Neal, and taking a closer look at the Ferrari I asked: Where do you put the groceries? I was told in his second car.

I said I wanted a Hummer H2 just like the one they prepared for LeBron James, and while officials at 310 Motoring would not discuss James, owner Marc Laidler showed me what I could expect in a similar car.


“We’re getting this Hummer H2 ready for Gary Payton,” he said.

“Gary asked, what could we add to make this his dream car? Well, it’s now got a suede roof, leather seat inserts, 22-inch wheels, all new chrome outside, three [TV] screens inside, an Xbox, satellite radio and top-of-the-line sound system.”

Payton, Laidler said, never asked how much anything was going to cost, which makes him no different than my daughter. Or the wife, for that matter.

It has been widely reported that James received a $50,000 car from his mother, but $50,000 is only the base price for a Hummer. The extras installed by 310 Motoring drove the price up to a little more than $100,000 when completed, or probably one game check for James once he turns pro.

“Well, would you like to make this happen?” said Laidler, and because I had been told he’s the very best in the business in matching car to customer, I confided to him I was really looking for a vehicle better-suited for my daughter.

“And the bagger,” he said. “No problem. I’ve got this old Dodge pickup out back.... “


BASEBALL OWNERS will meet in Arizona to vote whether the All-Star Game winner should get home-field advantage in the World Series.

I imagine the Dodgers have no position on this because what happens in the Series does not concern them.



TODAY’S LAST word comes from Stephen Davanis:

“You are really out of your league on ‘Around the Horn.’ You seem very uncomfortable and many times you don’t sound very intelligent.”

I’m pretty sure I sound the same as everyone else on the show.


T.J. Simers can be reached at