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.

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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.”

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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.

Do you think James' stunt was disrespectful?

“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.

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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Joe Setyon was a deputy managing editor for The Western Journal who had spent his entire professional career in editing and reporting. He previously worked in Washington, D.C., as an assistant editor/reporter for Reason magazine.
Joe Setyon was deputy managing editor for The Western Journal with several years of copy editing and reporting experience. He graduated with a degree in communication studies from Grove City College, where he served as managing editor of the student-run newspaper. Joe previously worked as an assistant editor/reporter for Reason magazine, a libertarian publication in Washington, D.C., where he covered politics and wrote about government waste and abuse.
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