(AFP) – Jan 14, 2008
CLEVELAND, Ohio (AFP) — NBA superstar LeBron James downplayed his most recent brush with the law after being ticketed for going 163 kilometres per hour (101 mph) on the highway in his white Mercedes.
The Cleveland Cavaliers franchise player was unapologetic after acknowledging driving 58 kph over the speed limit on December 30, the Cleveland Plain Dealer reported Monday.
"It's no big deal," James told the newspaper. "I was on my way home to go to sleep. You have to abide by the rules. I made a mistake."
Ohio state police stopped James' car at 2:43 am local time on his 23rd birthday. The car carries vanity license plates which read "KING OF AK".
Officer Harley Steppenbacker said James was polite and co-operative after being pulled over.
James said he was driving home after arriving back in Cleveland with the team following a road game in New Orleans.
James pleaded not guilty to the charge and could face a fine of 150 dollars. A court hearing is scheduled for February 11.
Safety experts say James' reckless behavior puts others on the road at risk even if he doesn't think it is a serious issue.
"When you travel at such high speeds, the crash would overwhelm the engineering and the safety features of any vehicle," Russ Rader, spokesman for the Insurance for Highway Safety in Washington, D.C. said. "A crash at that speed would leave a person unlikely to survive."
More than 300,000 drivers were charged with speeding in the state of Ohio last year of which just 1,400 were going over 160 kph, the Plain Dealer said.
"Operating a vehicle at that speed is ludicrous," Michael Salay, an engineer with for Medina County. "Going 101 wouldn't be safe anywhere, except the Indianapolis Speedway."
James may feel bullet proof behind the wheel of his sports car, but there has been a number of examples of high-profile athletes being involved in horrific car crashes.
James doesn't have to look further than his own Cleveland organization to find one.
Ex-Cleveland player Bobby Phills died in 2000 when he crashed his Porsche while going 160 kph. Phills was a member of the Charlotte Hornets at the time.
Ottawa Senators hockey star Dany Heatley was involved in a 2003 high-speed crash that killed his then-Atlanta Thrasher teammate Dan Snyder.
Philadelphia Flyers goalie Pelle Lindbergh was killed in a high-speed crash in 1985 and former Buffalo Sabres defenceman Tim Horton died while speeding in Buffalo in 1974.
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