LeBron baffled that Ben's headband bugs Bulls

Updated: November 28, 2006, 6:43 PM ET
By Brian Windhorst | Special to ESPN.com

CLEVELAND -- Lounging in a chair and gripping an ergonomic silver pen, LeBron James settled in Tuesday afternoon for a long autograph session for Upper Deck, one of his sponsors.

On this day there were hundreds of things set to be signed -- dozens of basketballs, an entire table full of shoes with various "sign here" labels attached, and lots of cards. But first was a two-inch thick stack of near life-size posters of James throwing down a dunk.

Slowly, in between making sure the pen wasn't dried out, James put a "23" and his name on each poster in the exact same spot, just above another signature item ... his headband.

An avid television watcher and reader, the Cavaliers' star is always up with what is going on in the league. And when it comes to the situation developing in Chicago with fellow All-Star and headband-wearer Ben Wallace, he has a pretty strong opinion.

"I know Ben Wallace has been wearing a headband for long time. I have worn a headband for a long time, probably from when I was 13 years old until now," James said.

"It is a routine. I don't know what I'd do if I couldn't wear one. If it is something you have been doing your whole life -- it doesn't matter what field you're in, athletics or the business side -- if someone comes and tells you to switch your routine up, it is going to mess up your work."

Like most NBA teams, the Cavs don't have a rule against headbands; in fact, sometimes club officials encourage them. Last week, when debuting their new orange throwback uniforms, players were asked to wear headbands, and some who usually don't wear them, like veteran forward Donyell Marshall, wore the orange head wraps.

"I'd be upset if they had some rule about it here. I don't know why it is such a problem," James said. "It's not disrespecting anybody, it's not thinking you're bigger than anyone on the team. Hey, certain people must have their own rules."

In the past James has adhered to appearance guidelines. When he was in high school at St. Vincent-St. Mary in Akron, Ohio, he covered up tattoos on his arms with white bandages because tats were against school rules. One of the first things he did after graduating was grow a goatee, which he has to this day, because facial hair at the parochial school was prohibited.

But now James says he'd make sure there were no rules for him to break before he considered joining a team.

"For me, that's something that would be discussed before signing your contract," James said. "You have your wants, your pros and your cons. If you want me to play for your team, why is the headband an issue? It should come up before you're ever in uniform."

Bulls coach Scott Skiles told media outlets he informed Wallace of the headband policy on the day of his introductory news conference -- after he'd signed his contract.

"I don't have a problem with headbands," Cavs coach Mike Brown said. "We're all adults here and you know that you have to be clean. We all know what that means and what we should and shouldn't wear."

Brian Windhorst covers the NBA for the Akron Beacon Journal and contributes to ESPN.com.

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