|LeBron had no issues with race when he did this cover for "Vogue"|
In a recent interview with CNN, LeBron James, the self-appointed "King," claimed he believes race issues were at play in the criticism he received for his actions this summer during NBA free agency.
The interview was conducted by Soledad O'Brien, and after she asked James if he felt race was an issue, he said, "I think so at times. It's always, you know, a race factor." In addition, James' manager and friend, Maverick Carter, said that race "definitely played a role in some of the stuff coming out of the media."
I'm surprised it took LeBron this long to play the race card. Shortly after "The Decision" on ESPN, as negative opinions began piling, Rev. Jesse Jackson compared LeBron's treatment to that of slaves. People scoffed, mainly because of the source of the comment. Jesse Jackson, once a powerful voice for change in this country, has become a joke as he has come to the defense of too many indefensible people. I thought that LeBron would have felt the same way, especially since he didn't say anything about the good reverend's remarks. Apparently, LeBron was in agreement, though.
The race card is often played by athletes and celebrities. Back in 2007, Donovan McNabb, then quarterback for the Philadelphia Eagles, claimed that African-American quarterbacks are criticized more harshly than white quarterbacks. When Michael Vick was imprisoned for running a dog fighting ring and torturing animals, his defenders said that he received harsher punishment because of his race. Hell, some people even tried to defend OJ Simpson with a similar defense in the events surrounding his murder trial. In addition, race has been a much discussed issue in debates over award winners at the Academy, Emmy, and Golden Globe Awards, so much so that a lot of column inches are given to African-American winners just to mention the rarity of African-American winners (remember Halle Berry?)
It's easy to play the race card, mainly because no one wants to touch it with a 1,000-ft. pole. To argue with LeBron is to almost sound insensitive to racial issues. To agree with him is to feel remarkably naive and foolish.
There is no way that race played a part in the media's criticism of LeBron James. The reality is that he behaved like an asshole. His decision to leave the Cleveland Cavaliers and "move his talents to Miami" was fine, and while many felt it was a bad choice, it was still his to make. Most of the criticism heaped on him had little to do with his actual decision, but the way in which he made it. He chose to put an entire fan base, city, and team under a bus in order to promote his own brand name.
Instead of just doing what most athletes do and notify his team of his intention and hold a short press conference, LeBron asked ESPN to host a 1-hour televised event in his honor. Sure, the proceeds went to the Boys and Girls Club, but LeBron wouldn't have broken a sweat writing the $3 million dollar check that charity received from the evening's advertising revenue.
LeBron brought this mess upon himself by spending several months sowing the seeds of his dischord with Cleveland. He constantly bemoaned his "lack of help" and was unwilling to commit to staying with the team that drafted him. He had to love all the attention his enigmatic response to questions about his free agency brought because he kept at it, smiling and shilling for all of his sponsors.
Race was never an issue when everyone hung on his every word, catered to his every whim, and put his grinning face on every commercial during an NBA broadcast.
Now that people are disappointed in his childish, immature behavior, race is an issue.
In an interview with GQ over the summer, LeBron talked about how his mother taught him that a person shows you who they are by their actions. He mentioned this to show how the Cavs owner Dan Gilbert proved to be an asshole by his foolish remarks in an open letter the night of LeBron's "decision." I imagine LeBron was never taught the meaning of the term irony, because his behavior throughout all of this has done nothing but show us what a self-important, whiny douchebag he is.
And that has nothing to do with race. Douches are clear and colorless.