From The NBA To Iraq: Meet The Real King James

So this seems like a good way to start the day — a story about a former NBA first-round draft pick who rides around in a HumVee. Not too impressive, until you realize the vehicle is located in Iraq, and the former baller in question — Tim Jameshas been deployed there in the Army since July.

Tim James

James was the Heat’s first pick in the 1999 draft (25th overall), and played for for Miami, Charlotte and Philadelphia before going overseas for fives seasons, playing in Japan, Turkey and Israel. His uncle, Sam McDonald, spent 22 years in the Marines, and he enlisted in Sept. of 2008. Once again, using your powers for good, not evil. That’s a +1.

There have been stories on James before, but a great update today in USA TODAY, including James’ take on the Fort Hood shootings.

“I do get a lot of, ‘What are you doing here?’ ” James said by phone this week.

James, 32, is a member of the Army’s Task Force ODIN, which is short for Observe, Detect, Identify, Neutralize. He’s part of a unit that tries to stifle the enemy’s use of improvised explosive devices (IEDs).

“I could understand him playing with the All-Army basketball team,” Capt. Curtis Byron said via e-mail. “But a situation like this is somewhat unheard of. He’s set a great example as a former NBA player representing those in his former profession through his transition to a soldier and leader of others. We’re all very proud of him as well as every single one of our soldiers for their personal and family sacrifices.”

If ODIN has anything to do with the stuff I saw occurring in “Hurt Locker,” wowww. That’s some serious stuff, my friend.

When James enlisted in the military, and again when he was deployed to Iraq, he didn’t tell anyone about being a former NBA player (although he’s 6-foot-7 … hard to hide that).

“Corporal James is treated no different than any other soldier,” Capt. Byron says. “When he messes up, he gets the same admonishment, and his fellow soldiers treat him no differently than any other. He’s one of us. That’s the great thing about the Army; you can leave your life behind and get a fresh start. From there, it’s up to you to accept that challenge. Corporal James has done just that.”

You may say his basketball career was done anyway, but come on; this is impressive. Age 32, having tasted the NBA lifestyle, and now you’re in the desert diffusing IED’s? Hard to fathom. /salutes.

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