LeBron James was born on December 30, 1984 in Akron, Ohio, to 16-year-old Gloria Marie James. His father, Anthony McClelland, had an extensive criminal record and was not involved in the boy’s life. James attended St. Vincent–St. Mary High School, an exclusive, mostly white, Catholic school in Akron where he became a nationally acclaimed basketball player.
During an August 2018 appearance on the HBO talk show The Shop, James recounted that when he first enrolled at that school, he viewed white people with suspicion and disdain:
“I was like, I’m not fu**ing with white people. Cuz I was so institutionalized, growing up in the hood, it was like they [whites] don’t fu** with us, they don’t want us to succeed, the hierarchy [raising his hand high to indicate that whites were at a higher socioeconomic level than blacks], and then we’re here [lowers his hand to indicate the lower status of blacks], like, matter of fact we underneath this chair. So I’m going, like, I’m going to this school to play ball, and that’s it. I don’t want nothing to do with white people, I don’t believe that they want anything to do with [me]. Me and my boys we going to high school together and we here to hoop. So that was my, like, initial, like, thoughts and my initial shock to, like, white America when I was 14 years old, for the first time in my life.”
After completing high school, James was selected by the National Basketball Association’s Cleveland Cavaliers as the first overall pick of the 2003 NBA draft. He went on to become one of the greatest professional basketball players of all time with the Cavaliers, the Miami Heat, and the Los Angeles Lakers. James also has been outspoken about his leftwing political and social views.
To protest a highly publicized February 2012 altercation in which a white Hispanic man had shot and killed a black teenager named Trayvon Martin in Florida, James and several of his Miami Heat teammates posed together for a photo in which they wore hooded sweatshirts (like Martin was wearing at the time of his death). James then posted the photo on Twitter.
James was outraged by a July 17, 2014 incident where a 43-year-old African American named Eric Garner died in Staten Island, New York, after having resisted the efforts of several white police officers (under the supervision of a black NYPD sergeant) to arrest him. One of the officers at the scene, Daniel Pantaleo, put his arms around the neck of the much larger Garner and took him down to the ground with a headlock/chokehold, at which point Garner reportedly said “I can’t breathe.” Garner subsequently suffered cardiac arrest in an ambulance that was taking him to a hospital, where he was pronounced dead approximately an hour after the initial altercation. City medical examiners concluded that he had died as a result of an interplay between the police officer’s hold and Garner’s multiple chronic medical infirmities. “I Can’t Breathe” became a popular slogan of demonstrators who later protested Garner’s death in rallies across the United States. When a grand jury decided in December 2014 not to indict Officer Pantaleo, James wore a T-shirt that bore the words “I Can’t Breathe” during a pre-game warmup session in Brooklyn.
Michael Brown (“Racism Is Still Alive”)
James was similarly disturbed by an August 9, 2014 altercation in which a white police officer in Ferguson, Missouri shot and killed an 18-year-old black male named Michael Brown, just minutes after Brown had perpetrated a strong-armed robbery of a local convenience store. Brown’s death set off a massive wave of protests and riots in Ferguson, which eventually grew into a national movement denouncing an alleged epidemic of police brutality against African Americans. The protesters falsely claimed that Brown had been shot in the back while fleeing from the officer, and that Brown at one point had raised his hands submissively in an attempt to surrender but was shot anyway. James, for his part, lamented in a television interview that “racism is still alive.” (Compelling ballistic, eyewitness, and forensic evidence eventually showed that Brown in fact had assaulted the officer and had tried to steal his gun just prior to the fatal shooting.)
James was outraged by a May 25, 2020 incident where a 46-year-old black criminal suspect in Minneapolis named George Floyd died after a white police officer named Derek Chauvin knelt on Floyd’s neck for nearly eight minutes, an incident that subsequently sparked violent riots led by Black Lives Matter and Antifa. On his Instagram account, James posted side-by-side photographs of: (a) Officer Chauvin with his knee on Floyd’s neck, and (b) former NFL quarterback Colin Kaepernick kneeling during a pre-game national anthem as a gesture of protest against police brutality and racial injustice. James added the caption: “This … Is Why. Do you understand NOW!!??!!?? Or is it still blurred to you?? #StayWoke.” He also posted online:
During a post-game interview on June 23, 2020, James demanded that the police officers involved in the death of Breonna Taylor, a 26-year-old black woman who was shot and killed in her home by police on March 13, be arrested. Said James: “I want to continue to shed light on justice for Breonna Taylor and to her family and everything that’s going on with that situation…. We want the cops arrested who committed that crime. It’s unfortunate that — well, it’s fortunate that we had the George Floyd video to see it. I mean, is that what we need to see a video of Breonna being killed for people to realize how bad the situation is?” James then delivered a 15-minute monologue on racism, saying, in part:
“A lot of people talk about [how] Black Lives Matter is a movement,” he said. “It’s not a movement. When you’re black, it’s not a movement. It’s a lifestyle. This is a walk of life. When you wake up, and you’re Black, that is what it is. It shouldn’t be a movement. It should be a lifestyle. This is who we are. And we understand that, and we know that for one step that someone else might have to take, or for one yard someone else may have to take, we know we got to take five more steps. We know we got to take ten more yards to get to the end zone. I mean, we understand that. We know that. But it’s also what makes us as strong, it makes us as powerful, it makes us so unique and unified is that we done had so much hardships in our life — either from personal experiences or loved ones or reading history or seeing videos, Rodney King, or just being a part of just the communities that you’re in, where you’re just racially profiled from the time you come out of the womb. I don’t like the word ‘movement’ because, unfortunately, in America and in society, there ain’t been no damn movement for us. There ain’t been no movement.”
Jacob Blake (Claiming That Blacks Are “Targeted” & “Scared”)
After a white police officer shot and wounded a black man named Jacob Blake on August 23, 2020 in Kenosha, Wisconsin — sparking violent riots — James tweeted: “And y’all wonder why we say what we say about the Police!! Someone please tell me WTF is this???!!! Exactly another black man being targeted. This shit is so wrong and so sad!! Feel so sorry for him, his family and OUR PEOPLE!! We want JUSTICE.”
James also issued the following remarks in interviews:
James was outraged in April 2021, when a white policewoman in Minnesota accidentally shot and killed a 20-year-old black man named Daunte Wright, who was resisting arrest and attempting to flee the scene. To express his views on the matter, he cited and applauded what ESPN commentator Jalen Rose had said about it. Rose’s comments were:
“KRS-One coined it really well when he basically compared the term ‘officer’, modern-day, to ‘overseer,’ as it related to slavery. And here’s why: the police were initially formed to corral slaves. That’s an absolute fact. So we’re always going to be looking over our shoulder at that group. They’re just called on to protect and serve. But to us, we always felt like we were the only people being policed. There are way too many names that I know, Jacoby, there are way too many: George Floyd, Breonna Taylor, Eric Garner, Philando Castille. I know too many of these names, and it continues to not only disrupt families in my community, but it inflicts a level of pain, anxiety, generational setbacks that our people have never been able to overcome….
“The only thing that has, sadly, changed from Jim Crow laws is a cell phone. That’s the only thing that’s changed. Because it’s been happening. So now people that don’t look like me are like, ‘Oh my goodness, this is happening?’ Yeah it’s happening! It’s been happening since the beginning of time, and we’re tired of it.”
In response to Rose’s remarks, James tweeted in all-capital letters: “SAY IT LOUDER FOR THE ONES IN THE BACK. AND THE ONES IN THE FRONT WHO FRONT LIKE THEY REALLY CARE ABOUT US!SALUTE @JalenRose.”
Shortly after a 16-year-old black female named Ma’Khia Bryant had been shot and killed by a white police officer in Columbus, Ohio on April 20, 2021, James tweeted a photo of the police officer who fired the fatal shots. James added the caption “YOU’RE NEXT ⏳ #ACCOUNTABILITY,” a reference to the fact that former Minneapolis police officer Derek Chauvin had just been convicted of murdering George Floyd 11 months earlier. Contrary to James’ implication, however, Bryant, at the very moment when she was shot, was armed with a knife and was in the act of thrusting it toward another black girl in an attempt to stab her while shouting, “I’m gonna stab the fuck out of you, bitch!”
Soon after he posted the tweet, James deleted it, seemingly indicating his belated realization of the fact that he had been premature in accusing an officer who likely had saved the life of a black girl who was about to be stabbed. But instead, James, citing the widespread criticism his original tweet had generated, tweeted the following explanation for why he had decided to pull it offline: “I’m so damn tired of seeing Black people killed by police. I took the tweet down because its being used to create more hate -This isn’t about one officer. it’s about the entire system and they always use our words to create more racism. I am so desperate for more ACCOUNTABILITY.” James also tweeted: “My anger still is here for what happened that lil girl. My sympathy for her family and may justice prevail!”
In September 2016, James voiced his support for National Football League quarterback Colin Kaepernick’s decision to protest America’s allegedly rampant racism and police brutality by kneeling, rather than standing, during a pregame national anthem: “I’m not a politician,” said James, “but I’ve lived this life and I’ve got a family and what scares me is my kids growing up in this society right now, where innocent lives are being taken [by police] and it seems like nothing is being done.” “I’m all in favor of anyone, athlete or non-athlete, being able to express what they believe in in a peaceful manner and that’s exactly what Colin Kaepernick is doing and I respect that,” James added.
In early June 2020, James criticized NFL quarterback Drew Brees, who is white, for having recently stated that he still did not support Colin Kaepernick’s 2016 protests during pre-game national anthems. James tweeted in response: “WOW MAN!! Is it still surprising at this point. Sure isn’t! You literally still don’t understand why Kap was kneeling on one knee?? Has absolute nothing to do with the disrespect of [the flag] and our soldiers (men and women) who keep our land free. My father-in-law was one of those men who fought as well for this country. I asked him question about it and thank him all the time for his commitment. He never found Kap peaceful protest offensive because he and I both know what’s right is right and what’s wrong is wrong!”
Breitbart.com contributor Warner Todd Huston pointed out the hypocrisy of James’s tweet:
“[E]ven as James rails against Brees and those who would rather see people respect our American national anthem, the L.A. Lakers star has been utterly silent as Hong Kong residents are made to face fines and imprisonment if they dare to disrespect the anthem of LeBron’s sponsors in China. The Chinese-controlled Hong Kong Legislature passed a law this week that imposed a three-year prison term on anyone daring to mount a protest or even show ‘disrespect’ during the Chinese national anthem. Meanwhile, LeBron James has business deals with the Chinese government that could be worth millions in the future.”
In a June 25, 2020 interview with Bloomberg Businessweek, James said that the NFL should issue an apology to Colin Kaepernick: “As far as the NFL, I’m not in those locker rooms, I’m not with those guys, but I do understand that an apology — I have not heard a true, official apology to Colin Kaepernick on what he was going through and what he was trying to tell the NFL and tell the world about why he was kneeling when he was doing that as a San Francisco 49er. I just see that to still be wrong. Now they are listening some, but I still think we have not heard that official apology to a man who basically sacrificed everything for the better of this world.”
In October 2016, James endorsed Hillary Clinton for U.S. President. “Only one person running [for President] truly understands the struggles of an Akron child born into poverty,” he wrote in an op-ed piece. “And when I think about the kinds of policies and ideas the kids in my [charitable] foundation need from our government, the choice is clear. That candidate is Hillary Clinton.” The following month in Cleveland, James gave a speech at a Clinton political rally where he said: “This woman right here [Mrs. Clinton] has the brightest future for our world.”
When President Barack Obama left office in January 2017, James recorded a personal farewell video message thanking the “unbelievable,” “one-of-a-kind” President for “standing tall every single day,” “leading our country,” and serving as “a true inspiration” to “everybody … who got dreams.” And when Obama turned 56 years old in August of that year, James tweeted him a happy-birthday message stating: “Yes we do love you! Thank you! Enjoy your day.”
In February 2017, James spoke out against President Donald Trump’s executive order which called for a temporary ban on travel to the U.S. from seven foreign countries that were hotbeds of crime and Islamic terrorism. “I am not in favor of this policy or any policy that divides and excludes people,” said James. “I stand with the many, many Americans who believe this does not represent what the United States is all about. And we should continue to speak out about it.”
In the wake of an August 2017 incident where a white neo-Nazi at a Charlottesville, Virginia rally had rammed his vehicle into a crowd of counter-protesters and killed a 32-year-old woman in the process, James condemned President Trump’s public response to the tragedy and tweeted: “Hate has always existed in America. Yes we know that but Donald Trump just made it fashionable again!”
At a Cavaliers Media Day event in September 2017, James said of Trump: “He doesn’t understand the power that he has for being the leader of this beautiful country. He doesn’t understand how many kids, no matter the race, look up to the president of the United States for guidance, for leadership, for words of encouragement…. The people run this country, not one individual — and damn sure not him.” At the same event, James lauded the NFL players who, in defiance of President Trump’s recent criticism, continued to kneel in protest during pregame national anthems. “I salute the NFL, players, owners & the fans … there was solidarity, there was no divide,” James said. “Even from that guy [Trump] who tries to divide us.” When asked to explain why he thought so many Americans had voted for Trump in the 2016 election, James said: “Well, I mean, that’s a great question. At the end of the day, like I said, I don’t think a lot of people was educated.”
In a televised conversation with TV personality Cari Champion and pro-basketball star Kevin Durant in February 2018, James said: “The number-one job in America, the appointed person is someone [Trump] who doesn’t understand the people. And really don’t give a fu** about the people…. While we cannot change what comes out of that man’s mouth, we can continue to alert the people that watch us, that listen to us, as this is not the way.” “It’s not even a surprise when he says something,” James added. “It’s like laughable. It’s laughable and it’s scary.”
In June 2018, James spoke out regarding President Trump’s decision to cancel the Super Bowl champion Philadelphia Eagles’ White House ceremony because of the ongoing controversy involving players kneeling during the pre-game national anthem at NFL games. “It’s typical of him,” said James. “I’m not surprised…. I mean I know no matter who wins [the NBA Finals between the Golden State Warriors and the Cleveland Cavaliers], no one wants to get invited [to the White House] anyway. It won’t be Golden State or Cleveland going.”
In a July 2018 interview with CNN’s Don Lemon, James said that President Trump had “kind of used sport to kind of divide us.” When Lemon asked James what he “would you say to the president if he was sitting right here,” James replied: “I would never sit across from him…. I’d sit across from Barack, though.”
On January 7, 2021, James spoke out about a large group of mostly-white Trump supporters who had gained access to the Capitol building in Washington and created havoc while protesting what they viewed as a presidential election that had been plagued by massive corruption and fraud. Asserting that there were “two Americas,” James claimed that a similar group of mostly-black protesters would have treated much more harshly by law-enforcement.
“And that was a prime example of that yesterday, and if you don’t understand that or don’t see that after seeing what you saw yesterday, then you really need to take a step back — not even just one step, but maybe four or five, or even 10 steps backwards and ask yourself how do you want your kids, or how do you want your grandkids, or how do we want America to be viewed as? Do we want to live in this beautiful country? If those were my kind storming the Capitol, what would have been the outcome? And I think we all know. There’s no ifs, ands or buts — we already know what would’ve happened to my kind if anyone would have even got close to the Capitol, let alone storm inside the offices, inside the hallways.”
James blamed Trump personally, for inciting the protesters at the Capitol: “The events that took place yesterday was a direct correlation of the president that’s in the seat right now — of his actions, his beliefs, his wishes. He cares about nobody besides himself. Nobody. Absolutely nobody. He doesn’t care about this country. He doesn’t care about his family. He doesn’t care about anybody besides himself.”
In May 2017, an unidentified vandal spray-painted a racial slur (the “N” word) on the front gate outside of James’s $21-million-dollar, 9,440-square-foot mansion in Los Angeles. In response to the incident, James said:
“[I]t just goes to show that racism will always be a part of the world, a part of America. Hate in America, especially for African-Americans is living every day. Even though that it’s concealed most of the time, even though people hide their faces and will say things about you, and then when they see you they smile in your face. It’s alive every single day.
“And I think back to Emmett Till’s mom, actually, it’s kind of one of the first things I thought of. And the reason that she had an open casket is because she wanted to show the world what her son went through as far as a hate crime and being black in America.
“No matter how much money you have, no matter how famous you are, no matter how many people admire you, being black in America is tough. And we’ve got a long way to go for us as a society and for us as African-Americans until we feel equal in America.”
In February 2018, James said he considered it his duty as a parent and role model to use his celebrity status as a platform from which to speak out on social issues. Among his remarks were the following:
In December 2018, James posted to his Instagram page the following lyrics from the song “asmr” by the rapper 21 Savage: “We been gettin’ that Jewish money, everything is kosher.” After business reporter Darren Rovell subsequently brought attention to James’ post, James told ESPN: “Apologies, for sure, if I offended anyone. That’s not why I chose to share that lyric. I always [post lyrics]. That’s what I do. I ride in my car, I listen to great music, and that was the byproduct of it. So I actually thought it was a compliment, and obviously it wasn’t through the lens of a lot of people. My apologies. It definitely was not the intent, obviously, to hurt anybody.” Some additional noteworthy lyrics from the same song include the following:
In October 2019, James spoke out against Daryl Morey, general manager of the NBA’s Houston Rockets, after the latter had posted a seven-word tweet — “Fight for freedom. Stand with Hong Kong” — in support of the masses of people in Hong Kong who were protesting the Chinese government’s recent efforts to deprive them of their civil and human rights. In China, the backlash to Morey’s tweet was harsh and swift: Major entities such as the Chinese Basketball Association, CCTV 5 (the sports channel of China’s top state broadcaster), Tencent Sports (the NBA’s exclusive digital partner in China), and sponsors like the Li-Ning sportswear company and the Shanghai Pudong Development Bank, all vowed to suspend their cooperation with the Rockets — thereby raising the distinct possibility that Chinese revenues might suddenly stop flowing so rapidly into NBA coffers. James, who has a lucrative lifetime endorsement deal with the Nike Corporation — which in turn has enormous financial interests in China — stated that Daryl Morey “wasn’t educated” on the Hong Kong matter and thus should have kept his thoughts to himself. “So many people could have been harmed not only financially but physically, emotionally and spiritually” by what Morey said, James told reporters in Los Angeles. “So just be careful with what we tweet, and we say, and we do.” “Yes, we do have freedom of speech,” James added, “but there can be a lot of negative that comes with that too.”
In March 2020, James and his longtime business partner Maverick Carter launched a new media empire called SpringHill Co., with $100 million in investor backing. Los Angeles investment banker Paul Wachter, a member of the SpringHill board of directors, stated that the new venture was “designed to move the culture.” James, for his part, emphasized that SpringHill would be unapologetically political and would be “a maker and distributor of all kinds of content that will give a voice to creators and consumers who’ve been pandered to, ignored, or underserved.” “When we talk about storytelling, we want to be able to hit home, to hit a lot of homes where they feel like they can be a part of that story. And they feel like, Oh, you know what? I can relate to that. It’s very organic to our upbringing,” James added.
In June 2020 as well, James and his aforementioned business partner, Maverick Carter, formed a political organization called More Than A Vote (MTAV), to focus on increasing black voter turnout in political elections. One of MTAV’s first agenda items was to advocate for turning NBA arenas and other large sports venues into mega polling sites ahead of the November general election. “Yes, we want you to go out and vote, but we’re also going to give you the tutorial,” James said of MTAV. “We’re going to give you the background of how to vote and what they’re trying to do, the other side, to stop you from voting.” In a September 2020 interview, James said: “Black people in the community don’t believe that their vote matters. We grow up and don’t think that our vote actually matters. It doesn’t. We’ve seen recounts before. We’ve seen our voices be muted our whole lives.”
In September 2020, James and MTAV donated $100,000 to help pay outstanding fines and court fees for former felons seeking to vote in political elections in Florida. The money was given to the Florida Rights Restoration Coalition, an organization that promoted a 2018 ballot measure which restored the right to vote for formerly incarcerated felons in Florida.
After two police officers were shot in the head and face while they sat in their cruiser in September 2020, Los Angeles County Sheriff Alex Villanueva challenged James to match the county’s $100,000 reward for information leading to the arrest of the perpetrator. James did not publicly acknowledge the sheriff’s challenge. But when a reporter asked him on September 20 to comment on the challenge, James replied: “I have zero comment on the sheriff.” Added James: “We don’t want anyone to be hurt. My condolences go out to the officers that were shot in Los Angeles. And we want justice for that … I’m not saying that all cops are bad … But when you see the videos that’s going on and you can see all over the – not only my hometown but all over America – you continue to see the acts of violence toward my kind, I can’t do nothing but to speak about it and see the common denominator.”
On October 7, 2020, James went online to post his reaction to an incident that had occurred during that night’s televised vice presidential debate between Republican Mike Pence and Democrat Kamala Harris — a fly had landed on top of Pence’s head and remained there for several minutes. James said in his post: “Y’all know what flies favorite destination is, right!!?? Yup you guessed it.” Below that caption were six emoji images of faces crying from laughter, and seven “pile of poop” emoji images. Below those images, James wrote: “FOH” — a slang acronym for “Fuck Outta Here.”
In April 2021, Major League Baseball commissioner Robert Manfred decided to move that year’s scheduled All-Star Game out of Atlanta — and to Denver, Colorado instead — as a gesture of protest against a newly passed Georgia voting-rights law requiring heightened standards of Voter ID when people cast their ballots in that state. Notably, Colorado’s already-existing Voter ID standards were more stringent than those associated with the new Georgia law. Manfred made his decision to change the All-Star Game’s venue after holding extensive discussions with voting-rights organizations associated with Lebron James, Stacey Abrams, and Al Sharpton.
On August 25, 2020 — during a violent Black Lives Matter/Antifa riot which followed an incident where a white Kenosha, Wisconsin police officer had shot and permanently disabled a knife-wielding black criminal named Jacob Blake — Kyle Rittenhouse, a 17-year-old white youth from Antioch, Illinois, drove to Kenosha, where his father resided, with the intent of: (a) helping to prevent further vandalism in that city, and (b) providing medical aid to people injured in the melee. At the scene of the unrest, Rittenhouse was armed with a semi-automatic rifle that had been purchased (with his money) and held for him by his friend Dominick Black, a resident of Kenosha. When white rioter and Kenosha resident Joseph Rosenbaum — who had spent 15 years in prison for multiple child molestation convictions that included anal rape — chased Rittenhouse, threatened to kill him, and tried to take away his rifle, Rittenhouse fatally shot Rosenbaum. While subsequently being chased by a crowd of approximately a dozen rioters, Rittenhouse ran down a street toward police vehicles, in hopes that the officers might protect him from his pursuers. But the fleeing Rittenhouse tripped and fell to the ground, at which point he was struck on the head by a 39-year-old white man who jump-kicked him. Then, while Rittenhouse was still on the ground, white Silver Lake resident Anthony Huber — a domestic abuse repeater and an ex-convict who in 2013 had pleaded guilty to multiple felony counts of strangulation, suffocation, and false imprisonment — struck him on the head and neck with a skateboard and attempted to pull away his rifle, at which point Rittenhouse killed Huber with a single gunshot to the chest. And when white West Allis resident Gaige Grosskreutz — who had a long arrest history that included multiple misdemeanors and felonies — then approached the fallen Rittenhouse and pointed a handgun directly at him, Rittenhouse shot him once in the right arm, wounding but not killing the man. Rittenhouse was subsequently tried on six criminal charges which included homicide, reckless endangerment, and possession of a dangerous weapon by a person under the age of 18. A large number of leftists portrayed him as a racist, Trump-supporting white vigilante who had recklessly fired his gun at “social justice” and “racial justice” demonstrators in Kenosha.
On November 10, 2021, James used his Twitter account to mock Rittenhouse for breaking down in sobs on the witness stand during his murder trial. Wrote James: “What tears????? I didn’t see one. Man knock it off! That boy ate some lemon heads before walking into court.” James ended his tweet with three laughing emojis.
The jury found Rittenhouse not guilty on all counts on November 19, 2021.
In the fall of 2021, Turkish-born Boston Celtics center Enes Kanter was outspoken in his criticism of President Xi Jinping’s oppressive regime in China, describing Xi as a “brutal dictator” and declaring his support the “Free Tibet” movement. Kanter was also critical of James and his lucrative endorsement deal with the Nike corporation, a company known for exploiting the slave labor of many Chinese workers. Said Kanter in a video posted to his various social media accounts in October:
“Dear Nike, your company says that you’re making a positive impact in our communities. And that is true. Yes, you are. Here, in the United States, Nike stands with Black Lives Matter, Nike stands with Stop Asian Hate, Nike stands with the Latino community, and Nike stands with the LGBTQ community. And Nike remains vocal about injustice here in America. But when it comes to China, Nike remains silent. You do not address police brutality in China, you do not speak about discrimination against the LGBTQ community, you do not say a word about the oppression of minorities in China. You are scared to speak up.”
“Who makes your [Nike’s] shoes in China? Do you even know? There are so many forced labor factories in China. For instance, [there is] modern-day slavery, and it is happening right now in China. Millions of Uyghurs are currently detained, sold, and assigned to work in factories, prisons, and forced labor camps across the country. They are under constant surveillance, with long working hours and poor working conditions. They are subject to political re-education. They have no freedom of expression, no freedom of religion. And they are not even able to leave.
“Did you know that almost the entire apparel and footwear industry is tainted by Uyghur forced labor? Many well-known global brands are implicated. And yes, that includes one of the NBA’s biggest sponsors, Nike. Nike claims that they do not allow any forced labor in their supply chains. Yet, they don’t have the receipts to prove it. […] Don’t forget, every time you put those shoes on your feet, or you put that t-shirt on your back, there are so many tears and so much oppression and so much blood behind it all. Nike likes to say ‘Just Do It.’ Well, what are you doing about the slave labor that makes your shoes? That slave labor that makes you rich. To the owner of Nike — Phil Knight — I have a message for you: How about I book plane tickets for us? Let’s fly to China together. We can try to visit these slave labor camps, and you can see with your own eyes. LeBron James and Michael Jordan, you guys are welcome to come, too. Nike must be a participant in this. Stop the hypocrisy. Stop the modern-day slavery now.”
On November 18, 2021, Kanter posted an online message that said: “Money over Morals for the ‘King’ [a reference to James.] Sad & disgusting how these athletes pretend they care about social justice[.] They really do ‘shut up & dribble’ when Big Boss[.] Did you educate yourself about the slave labor that made your shoes, or is that not part of your research?”
During a November 19, 2021 game between the Boston Celtics and the Angeles Lakers, Kanter wore sneakers that depicted James bowing to Chinese President Xi while the latter was portrayed as placing a crown on James’ head. After the game, a reporter asked James about Kanter’s shoes as well as his recent criticisms of the Laker star. James replied: “I think if you know me, you know I don’t really give too many people my energy and he’s definitely not someone I will give my energy to. Trying to use my name to create an opportunity for himself. Definitely won’t comment too much on that, if any. That will be where I lay that at.”
On January 3, 2022, James was angered when, after Houston Rockets’ player Kevin Porter Jr. had made a winning basket in the final moments of his team’s game against the Washington Wizards, Wizards’ announcer Glenn Consor said: “You’ve got to give credit. Kevin Porter Jr., like his dad, pulled that trigger right at the right time.” The reference was to a former sharpshooting NBA player named Kevin Porter, who Consor mistakenly thought was Kevin Porter Jr.’s father. But in fact, Kevin Porter Jr.’s actual father, whose full name was Bryan Kevin Porter Sr., had used a gun to shoot and killed a teenage girl in 1993 — a fact that caused James to become outraged by Consor’s “pull the trigger” reference. In a January 6 tweet, James denounced Consor’s comment and demanded that he be fired from his job: “Oh he thought this was cool huh!!?? Nah we ain’t going for this! Sorry but this ain’t going to fly! How insensitive can you be to say something like this. Beat it man! I pray for you but there’s no place in our beautiful game for you!”
Consor quickly apologized for his mistaken reference, writing in a tweet: “Please allow me to take this opportunity to sincerely apologize to Kevin Porter Jr., his family and the Rockets organization for the comments I made during last night’s game. I mistakenly thought that Kevin was the son of former Washington player Kevin Porter and was unaware that the words I chose to describe his game-winning shot would be in any way hurtful or insensitive. I have reached out to Kevin personally apologize and hope to be able to talk with him soon.”
James, however, was not mollified, saying:
“I stand by my tweet. I stand by everything I said. So, let’s just say, he thought that was the case. We get scouting reports on players, and I know you guys from the media all get memos and stuff for players and stuff before the game, right? Y’all get like packets of stuff when y’all come to the game and what’s going on and game play. And I believe that – I’m not a play-by-play person, analyst – but I believe that they do they due diligence as well when they get their reports on teams that they’re about to play as well as their own team, right? So, I was actually watching the game live last night when I heard, and I waited. I didn’t do it right away as you see with my tweet, I was watching the game. So, if that’s the case, if I am a play-by-play announcer, right, and I’m covering a team – my local team – in his case he’s covering the Wizards. So he remembers the Kevin Porter who used to play for the [Washington] Bullets, correct? The first thing I would have done, I would have said, ‘Kevin Porter Jr. is coming into town, let me see if that’s his son.’ I would’ve did that due diligence way before, and I think everyone on this call would have did the same thing.”
As of January 2022, James had a net worth of approximately $500 million. He accumulated that wealth not only through his basketball contracts, but also by way of his billion-dollar lifetime Nike deal and his stake in such entities as Beats Electronics, Liverpool F.C., Blaze Pizza, and his own SpringHill Entertainment production company.
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