Just like Allen Iverson, LeBron James is one of many NBA players who are supremely talented to make a switch to American Football look easy. While Iverson and James are great basketball players seeing the pair in grid iron gear would have been something else.
But football and basketball have been the topic for serious discussion in the past week as star players of the mentioned sports disciplines have confronted harrowing issues affecting many lives in the United States. After players followed then San Francisco 49ers Quarterback Colin Kaepernick’s stance to sit or kneel during the national anthem, US President Donald Trump lashed out teams and individuals for disrespecting the flag.
In his rant, he urged team owners to dismiss protesting players; in response, more players joined the movement by locking arms or completely ignored the anthem by staying inside. Forever a football loving guy, LeBron’s name got mixed in the controversial, emotionally charged issue when one of Trump’s statements hit out at NBA players.
In a response to Golden State Warriors Guard Steph Curry’s who declined an invitation to the White House for winning the league championship, President Trump in his tweet seemed to suggest NBA players were not invited to the White House.
As Vice President of the Players Union and arguably the face of the NBA, James spoke up by calling Trump a “bum” in a shocking emotional rant rarely seen from Cleveland Cavaliers leader who has shied away from taking such personal routes to dialogue. As shocking as James rant was, underlying issues in recent months shouldn’t make it so as LeBron’s disdain for Trump runs deep. After his los Angeles home got hit by racial themed graffiti in the lead up to last season’s finals, James has witnessed the tumultuous times American has plunged into regarding racism. Trump hasn’t helped matters with his comments on the issue either; on the contrary America’s leader has stoked the flame some more.
But how did America get here in the first place? It began with a shock election win for then Republican Party Candidate Trump beating out Democrat leader Hillary Clinton in last year’s polls with Ohio voting for Trump. Despite appearing on stage with Mrs. Clinton and pleading for votes for her, James’ home state voted against his choice candidate to swing the polls in favor of Trump. After getting betrayed by his fans, there is little to believe James wouldn’t want some slice from his Icon Michael Jordan’s payback playbook. However, the elephant in the room is Cavaliers Owner Dan Gilbert’s affinity to the President which has gone under the radar at a time Oklahoma City Thunder is coming out of nowhere to make headline steals this offseason.
A change of nickname from loud city in NBA annals to Rogue City is in order after grabbing Paul George and Carmelo Anthony for next to nothing. Gilbert has demonstrated his support for Trump with the prime example being a $750,000 donation to Trump’s inauguration in January. No one throws money away without sound reason igniting it same way a business man like Gilbert would; by throwing large chunks of cash at his team, Gilbert has overseen a Championship parade and three straight NBA Finals since Lebron returned after his Miami Heat stint. The chance to get out of the shadow of a Trump supporter is on the table after this season when James becomes an unrestricted free agent.
Coupled with Gilbert’s chequered past with LeBron including his foul mouthed letter to the “King” in 2010 and failing to extend former Manager and James close friend David Griffin’s contract, James is not a big fan of the Detroit born owner. While many have associated James impending decision with Los Angeles, virtually no one has suggested the Clippers. On the other hand, Lakers President of Basketball Operations Magic Johnson has congratulated Curry and James for their stance on the issue. In troubled times like these, seeing LeBron play for a team with former Owner Donald Sterling’s racist comments not forgotten.
True to professional standards that have epitomized him, James stated he intends to finish career in Cleveland but stated he will address the issue once the season is complete on Media Day. So what should have been a Kyrie Irving dominant headline presser turned out to be a mini political rally for James. While that statement rings true, his stay with the Cavs has a short life span and President Trump just made it definite with his latest tongue lashing.
By Yaw Adjei-Mintah
@YawMintYM on Twitter