I’ve never been a fan of LeBron James. Ever.
He had way too much hype coming into the NBA. His shot really wasn’t sweet. He bullies his way to the rim on offense and had the nerve to flop on defense. No finesse whatever (rip Kobe!). Then, the 07 Pistons series came and I saw greatness. I started to soften my stance. Dude could hoop! I’m a guy that appreciates good basketball. So, if you can play, then I’ll eventually get behind you.
Then, The Decision happened and I soured all over again.
Mans had an entire TV special to announce where he was taking his talents. On top of that the team was stacked. I couldn’t get with that. Bron went back to Cleveland and had a successful stint there. I began to soften again. Again, good basketball is good basketball no matter who plays it. By the time LeBron signed with the Lakers (my favorite team), I was indifferent. Excited enough to know we’ll be championship contenders once again. Dreading Bron’s fan base because they are nothing short of annoying. It’s something I can live with though. LeBron is still the best basketball player in the world at year 17 (I started writing this prior to him winning the fourth championship).
But that’s basketball. It’s just a game. Let’s talk about real life.
Ahmaud Arbery was murdered in February 2020. Video footage of the incident prompted nationwide dissatisfaction. The discussion of black lives was once again at the forefront of the news. Shortly after Ahmaud, Louisville Police killed Breonna Taylor in a botched no knock raid. Then, George Floyd was murdered by Minneapolis Police in May and the country went off! People are tired of injustice being swept under the judicial system’s rug. Companies started to change their stance on Black Lives Matter. The message was finally being seen in a positive light. All of this happened during the middle of the worst pandemic in 100 years.
As we all were trying to cope with COVID-19, sports leagues were trying to figure out how to safely play again. The NBA worked out a plan to resume operations, but the shocking thing was their commitment to social justice. They allowed players to kneel during the anthem, wear warm up shirts dedicated to Black Lives Matter messages, and change the name on their jerseys to reflect sentiments of change. At the forefront of this NBA movement is LeBron James.
LeBron is arguably the most recognizable figure in sports. His word carries weight. Because he’s so vocal about black lives (and not in a manner that disparages black people), conservative pundits attack him. After all, he’s just a basketball player and that’s not hard to do (please note the sarcasm). One such attack on LeBron came recently from Patrick D. Hampton. If you’re wondering who Hampton is we’re in the same boat. Long story short, he’s one of the many Black conservatives who are quick to berate Black people thus making him a hero amongst the White conservative crowd. He’s a male Candace Owens. That’s not a compliment.
Hampton wrote a concise post aimed at LeBron. He lamented fatherlessness in the black community. He heralded the police force while simultaneously degrading single black mothers. He hit the usual black on black crime narrative which is popular amongst conservative groups. He even made sure to mention LeBron’s situation with his father. It was an extremely classless move. Unfortunately, people like Hampton exist to assuage the racist opinions of white conservatives (those that fit). As long as it’s a black person saying it, then they can be comfortable in their flawed opinions and continue to treat other black folks as such. As long as these black folks aren’t conservative, of course. It’s a terribly vicious, outrageously flawed cycle.
One of many problem with Hampton’s attack is he missed the true essence of LeBron. He doesn’t just speak. He’s about that action.
First off. LeBron has the quintessential nuclear family Hampton spoke of. He is present in his kid’s life (as much as can be seen via media). The interactions LeBron has with his kids are genuine. LeBron is the dad Hampton speaks of while simultaneously cutting LeBron down for not having his father around.
Second. LeBron has given time and money into poorer communities. LeBron has actually done something for the same kids Hampton is concerned about. Rephrase. LeBron is doing something for these kids. Paying tuition. Providing scholarships. Building an entire school, in conjunction with Akron Public Schools, dedicated to at-risk youth. An entire school. And conservatives still criticized him for it.
Lastly. Lebron is about his people. Words go a long way. Having a black celebrity that doesn’t castigate us on a national stage every chance they get is…. Well… Clutch. We as black Americans deal with enough injustices in this judicial system without having our own try to justify them for good negro compliments.
You may not always agree with LeBron, and that’s certainly your right Mr. Hampton. But please remember, while you’re beating your drum for Trump LeBron is actually out here trying to make his community better.
What are you doing? Don’t talk about it. Be about it.