For all of Los Angeles Lakers superstar LeBron James’ faults, his treatment of the national anthem is not one of them.
Sure, he’s a noted coach-killer, makes everything about race, whines about calls and makes excuses, but to give credit where it’s due for clearing an an incredibly low bar, James has never knelt or disrespected the national anthem.
That alone puts him at some sort of tier above former NFL quarterback Colin Kaepernick, who rose to infamy after kneeling for the national anthem as a form of protest in 2016.
Granted, the NBA has stricter rules than the NFL when it comes to decorum during the anthem.
But if there was any player with enough clout and power in the NBA to protest for the anthem and get away with it, it would be LeBron James.
Given all of that, James’ relationship with Kaepernick has certainly been a curious one.
James seems perfectly content supporting Kaepernick mostly from the fringes.
In and of itself, that’s not a particularly huge surprise.
Few athletes, if any, are as obsessed with their image as James is. Trump-bashing aside, James typically tries to avoid any controversial issues so as to keep his “brand” as universally accessible as possible.
That’s why it was a bit surprising to see how forcefully James spoke out about his support for Kaepernick before Sunday night’s NBA All-Star Game.
— The Mad King (@Kingkeraun) February 16, 2019
“I think it’s important to stick up for what you believe in, you what I’m saying?” James said when asked about Kaepernick, the latter of whom has come under some scrutiny for being a “sellout” over the way he settled his collusion grievance with the NFL.
“I think with Kap, I stand with Kap, I kneel with Kap,” James continued.
“I just feel what he was talking about no one wanted to listen to. Nobody ever really wanted to understand where he was actually coming from.”
Had James actually knelt with Kaepernick, his comments might ring a little stronger.
“I think that anybody that would sacrifice their livelihood for the betterment of all of us, I can respect that and he’s done that.
“I mean, you got a guy who basically lost his job because he wanted to stand for something that was more than just him,” James said.
It would’ve been nice had a reporter bothered to ask James what livelihood, exactly, that Kaepernick sacrificed.
A lucrative Nike ad campaign and a likely financial settlement with the NFL has potentially lined Kaepernick’s pocket with more money than he’d ever be worth as a backup quarterback.
Kaepernick is set for life — and James knows it.
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