LeBron James Reveals Intriguing Take On Women’s Basketball

LeBron James, Caitlin Clark, NBA
NBA Analysis Network

Like many basketball fans, NBA superstar LeBron James of the Los Angeles Lakers was locked in, watching and following along with the 2024 NCAA Women’s Tournament. There were some incredible matchups throughout the tournament, as it took center stage over the last week or so.

A rematch of the 2023 Championship Game between Iowa and LSU took place in the Elite Eight. UConn, a perennial contender, took on USC in another Elite Eight matchup. These were star-studded affairs with some of the biggest names in women’s basketball taking part.

If you talked to a casual basketball fan in March, they would likely be able to name more players taking part in the women’s tournament than the men’s. That, in James’ opinion, is what sets the games apart at the college level.

NBA NEWS & SCORES: LeBron James, 2024 NCAA Tournament, Los Angeles Lakers Updates

“I don’t think there’s much difference between the men’s and women’s game when it comes to college basketball,” James said last week. “I think the popularity comes in with the icons that they have in the women’s game. You look at Angel Reese, you look at JuJu [Watkins], you look at Caitlin Clark, you look at Paige [Bueckers]. You look at the young girl that’s at Iowa State, the freshman there [Audi Crooks]. You look at [Cameron] Brink … at Stanford. And that’s just to name a few. And the freshman that’s at Notre Dame [Hannah Hidalgo]. Because they’re not allowed to go to the WNBA [after their freshman year].”

Not being allowed to pursue a professional career after a freshman season as the men certainly enables the women to build on their star legacies and star power. NIL’s becoming prevalent in college sports has helped superstars such as the players James named make some money before turning professional, which makes having to stay in college easier to accept.

The NBA sees college freshmen declare for the draft every year. Players who weren’t starters in college are declaring and pursuing their professional dreams as teams attempt to predict what the future could hold for some players. That is what James sees as the biggest difference between the women’s and men’s games currently in the NCAA.

“It’s just a different time between the men’s and women’s,” James said. “And men can come out after their freshman year. If I have a big-ass season after my freshman year of college basketball, I’m going to the league. If a girl has a great season — like JuJu. JuJu, she can’t come out. If she could, you think she might. Maybe. But that’s the difference.”

NBA NEWS & SCORES: LeBron James, 2024 NCAA Tournament, Los Angeles Lakers Updates

James makes a valid point. On numerous occasions, we have seen a player burst onto the scene during the Men’s NCAA Tournament. Buzz is surrounding them and they opt to take advantage, declaring for the NBA Draft.

That isn’t a luxury that the women can take advantage of. Rules are in place in the WNBA that anyone declaring for the draft has to be at least 22 years old, used all of their college eligibility, graduated from a four-year college or be four years removed from high school to be eligible to be selected.

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