LeBron James Comes Under Fire for 'Disrespectful' Stunt During Anthem Before NBA Opener
Lakers superstar LeBron James sparked a bit of controversy Tuesday night for what many saw as disrespectful behavior during the playing of the national anthem prior to his team’s season-opening game against the Clippers.
The final notes of the national anthem were being sung when James, clearly excited for the start of a new season, yelled out the words, “Let’s go!” as he walked over to the Lakers bench.
LeBron is READY ? pic.twitter.com/oPAKxy7QrL
— NBA on ESPN (@ESPNNBA) October 23, 2019
This is not, of course, the first time that professional athletes have sparked controversy during the playing of the national anthem.
In the NFL, many players followed former 49ers quarterback Colin Kaepernick’s lead and knelt during the anthem to protest police brutality and alleged racial inequality.
James’ stunt during the first day of the 2019-20 NBA season, however, was not in protest of anything.
In fact, he could have waited a few seconds before the end of “The Star-Spangled Banner” to hype himself up, instead of screaming “Let’s go!” while most everyone else in the arena was respectfully standing up with their hands on their hearts.
Many social media users saw James’ stunt as “disrespectful.”
@KingJames so Disrespectful. Karma gave you the loss
— RL (@rllama017) October 23, 2019
Totally uncalled for. It’s just disrespectful to the folks that died for our freedoms…that he abusing for publicity. He’s just mad that he’s not the ?
— Jeff (@VFLCampbell) October 23, 2019
What a classless disrespectful move to the country that gave you the opportunity to make billions of dollars @KingJames. You’re more than welcome to leave anytime you want and don’t come back. Put your hand over your heart and say thank you. https://t.co/72bihf44wu
— Turner Wintz (@19tmoney19) October 23, 2019
Disrespectful garbage during the national anthem @KingJames https://t.co/ScN4a72c1z
— Visual Overland (@VisualOverland) October 23, 2019
@KingJames let OUR countries song finish. Disrespectful, show some respect.
— Christian Medick (@christianmed23) October 23, 2019
It’s worth noting that James pulled this stunt less than two weeks after appearing to side with China when Houston Rockets general manager Daryl Morey angered that country’s government by tweeting in support of pro-democracy Hong Kong protesters.
“We all talk about this freedom of speech, yes, we all do have freedom of speech, but at times there are ramifications for the negative that can happen when you’re not thinking about others and you’re only thinking about yourself,” James said.
“I don’t want to get into a word, or sentence, feud with Daryl Morey, but I believe he wasn’t educated on the situation at hand, and he spoke.”
“So many people could have been harmed,” James continued. “Not only financially, but physically, emotionally, spiritually. So, just be careful what we tweet, and we say, and what we do. Even though, yes, we do have freedom of speech, but there can be a lot of negative that comes with that too.”
Some social media users pointed out what they saw as hypocrisy in the fact that James tried his hardest not to offend the Chinese government, but didn’t care about pulling this stunt during the American national anthem.
If this was the Chinese anthem @KingJames would have showed the proper respect https://t.co/a5yUyXo1dm
— Dave Portnoy (@stoolpresidente) October 23, 2019
The Lakers don’t own his rights, China does. He blew it!
— Haunted Horse (@Haunted00Horse) October 23, 2019
READY to ignore human rights violations of the Chinese government ?
— Dodge Ram Owner (@RamLover_69) October 23, 2019
In any case, James’ effort to hype himself up doesn’t appear to have worked.
The Clippers beat the Lakers 112-102, and James, who had just 18 points, was outscored by four players, including two on his own team.
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