After Calling Trump Divisive, LeBron James Says Black and White Athletes Are Treated Differently
LeBron James’ NBA career isn’t necessarily winding down, per se, but he’s certainly seen more tip-offs from the court. There’s always a question for an athlete as to how to spend the rest of his life when his “career,” so to speak, is over when most people are just beginning to hit their stride in other professions.
In LeBron’s case, it seems increasingly apparent he might want to trade the appellation King James for something more like Gov. James or Sen. James — or at least be a sociopolitical force well beyond the court. We’ve heard more this summer about James’ political views than we have about his move to the Lakers. He’s started taking on President Trump and is currently taking the next step to become a political force: getting a talk show.
LeBron’s HBO series is called “The Shop” and, according to Awful Announcing, he talks to a variety of personalities from within and outside of the sports world. The show premiered this Tuesday and waded pretty heavily into politics.
Perhaps the most surprising part is that James — a man who said Trump is using sports to “divide us” — used sports to divide us by saying black athletes are treated differently than white athletes when it comes to both press and public.
“When you’re growing up in sports or hip-hop, whatever the case may be, all you hear is like, I want to be the best. Whoever’s the best, they do it their way, whatever the case may be. And then, when you do it your way, and you win, it still ain’t enough,” James said.
“It still ain’t enough. And that’s for us as African Americans because I believe if the greatest quarterback in the world, he’s a white quarterback, if it’s Brady, if it’s Rodgers, if it’s Manning.
“And we’re doing the same s—, the same exact s—, I’m talking about the phone is on. We’re like, ‘Yo, get that f—— phone out of my face. I’m with my family.’ If we’re out with our family, and we say that s—, and somebody posts it, and if Aaron Rodgers or one of those guys say that s— and they post it, somebody’s going to be like, ‘Hey you guys should respect Aaron Rodgers.’”
Well, where to begin? The first part is that the statement is subjective on so many levels. James doesn’t even try to bring it into the objective; he cites no evidence or concrete examples, he merely says he thinks Aaron Rodgers gets better treatment than him.
There’s also no real way to argue against this. A white athlete can’t be a black athlete the same way a black athlete can’t be a white athlete. It’s a truism you can’t experience anything other than your own personal experience — which is a very limited lens to view the world through. There’s really no study you could devise that could properly look at experiences or YouTube comments and properly account for all variables to prove that anything LeBron said was true.
However, if a white athlete were to argue they get the same kind of privacy-invading coverage James experiences and that it’s not mitigated by subconsciously racist people saying “Hey you guys should respect (insert athlete here),” look out for 25 minutes on Monday’s “First Take” in which Max Kellerman and Stephen A. Smith agree vociferously agree this is what’s wrong with Trump’s America.
Furthermore, as for the first part of the statement — the implication that for black athletes, “when you do it your way, and you win, it still ain’t enough” — this is coming from the most famous athlete in the world on his very own talk show. I hold that out there for summary judgment.
James, by the way, is the man who recently said that the president “is dividing us and what I’ve noticed over the last few months is that he’s kinda used sport to kinda divide us, and that’s something that I can’t relate to because I know that sport was the first time I ever was around someone white and I got the opportunity to see them and learn about them and they got an opportunity to learn about me and we became very good friends.
“Sports has never been something that divides people, it’s always been something that brings someone together.”
Athletes have always been treated horribly by fans. When they don’t perform, they get all sorts of offensive invective thrown their way. When they do perform, they get mobbed for autographs and cameras shoved in their face. That’s part of why they get paid millions of dollars — sports isn’t just physically rigorous, the TMZ media complex that makes sports possible on the economic level it exists today also makes it one of the most grinding, soul-draining professions there is.
If LeBron James has a specific circumstance in which he can recount being treated differently for the exact same thing that a white athlete did, tell us about it. If he’s right, we’ll be more than happy to call them out.
If not, this is just divisive, throwaway identity politics claptrap. And “sports has never been something that divides people, it’s always been something that brings someone together.” I thought we agreed on this. Right?
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