Mark Bacon—Main Event Sports DC
Donald Trump has been very active attacking sports figures since 2017. Notice he hasn’t gone after one person in particular yet? That would be LeBron James.
After Trump entered the U.S. presidential race in June 2015, campaigning with rhetoric that many in communities of color found to be divisive, NBA teams were among the first to discontinue their relationships with Trump hotels. King James led that charge when he was the first to pull out from staying at a Trump hotel.
After LeBron refused to stay at the Trump Soho, a staff member told the NYTimes reporter Sarah Maslin Nir, regular business from sports teams dried up. Now, it’s not just the Trump Soho. It’s his branding empire. His inferior Chinese made products. That’s the real reason Trump hasn’t attacked LeBron to this point. He has an acute affect on his brand.
Trump has always come of as a bully, but what happens when the bully gets punked? It’s one thing to go after LaVar Ball or Marshawn Lynch, but why no words for James? After all, he did call him a “bum”.
Maybe it’s because James is America’s most beloved athlete and he has a better grasp of social media. Maybe it’s the fact that James conducts himself at a level of professionalism and humanitarian, things we should demand from our president. Whatever the case may be, Trump doesn’t want to bark up that tree with the James.
Usually, when someone is costing you money, you address that person and the issue. Time will tell if Trump ever calls James out on Twitter. If he ever does, expect a nuclear Twitter battle that will get super ugly.
THAT TIME HAS COME.
A president with a fourth-grade vocabulary, a first-grade intellect and an aversion to truth, devoid of compassion and impulse control, is attacking the intelligence of a basketball star who just donated $50 million to build a school for at-risk students.
That the most powerful man on the planet is also among the most peevish is, by now, a given. That Donald Trump would rather do battle with black athletes than malevolent dictators is, at a minimum, reflective of his skewed sensibilities and his willingness to pander to the racist element in his base.
Yet, like a dyspeptic, wounded chihuahua, Trump tweeted on August 3, 2018:
“Lebron James was just interviewed by the dumbest man on television, Don Lemon. He made Lebron look smart, which isn’t easy to do. I like Mike!”
First, it’s LeBron, not “Lebron.” Second, didn’t Trump call Bill Maher “the dumbest man on television” on Jan. 14, 2013? Are we to believe Maher got smarter in the interim or Lemon dumber?
Third, shouldn’t the president of the United States have higher priorities than immediate payback for perceived slights?
“A sign of an insecure human being is one who attacks others to make themselves feel better,” read a tweet from former Louisville star and Utah Jazz superstar Donovan Mitchell’s account on Saturday. “(I’m) just sad that young kids have to see stupid tweets like these and grow up thinking it’s okay. . .forget everything else Donald your (sic) setting a bad example for kids.”
“WHEN YOU COME AT THE KING, YOU BEST NOT MISS.”
Fox News host Laura Ingraham would have been wise to remember this famous quip from the brilliant television drama, The Wire before her harangue against Cleveland Cavaliers superstar LeBron James. Always on the ready for her next tantrum, Ingraham was responding to a YouTube video featuring James, fellow NBA star Kevin Durant and ESPN’s Cari Champion in which James said that President Trump does not “give a fuck about the people.” The Fox News host’s response was perfectly emblematic of how the right has responded to politically minded athletes in the Trump era. The message is simple, if you’re a black athlete, keep your mouth shut and “stick to sports.”
In fact, in Ingraham’s disgusting segment on James’ comments, she said just that, telling him to “Shut up and dribble.” Dripping with condescension, Ingraham called James comments “ignorant,” imploring the audience to remember that its “always unwise to seek political advice from someone who gets paid 100 million dollars a year to bounce a ball.” She even “ignorantly” claimed that James left high school a year early.
When Ingraham asked, “Why must they run their mouths like that?” Who is she talking about exactly? One wonders if Ingraham has ever watched her own network, which frequently features such philosopher-kings as musicians Kidrock, Ted Nugent and Gene Simmons, baseball players Curt Schilling and Johnny Damon, Duck Dynasty’s Phil Robertson, and even famed romance novel cover model Fabio, who are all free to opine on the issues of the day. What characteristic do they have that James doesn’t?
If you compare LeBron James’ life story to President Trump’s, only of them represents what Republicans so frequently point to when they talk about the American dream. James came from nothing – the son of a teenager mother in decrepit Akron, Ohio – who now presides over a business empire and is a devoted father and husband. In fact, James has never been befouled by personal scandal. Trump inherited money from his wealthy father to start his business and is a serial philanderer who has been married three times. Twelve women accused President Trump of sexual harassment during the presidential campaign, and of course there have been many, many scandals since.
Ingraham’s pathetic denunciation of LeBron is premised on the idea that James has no right to call out President Trump because he is a “rich athlete,” as if that insulates him from America’s race issues. Just last year, James had the n-word spray-painted on his home in Los Angeles. Should he keep quiet about that too?
White NBA coaches like Gregg Popovich, Steve Kerr and Stan Van Gundy have all publicly excoriated President Trump since he began campaigning for president. But, Fox hasn’t covered their comments or told them to shut up and coach. The bottom line: President Trump, Fox, and their acolytes simply can’t tolerate black professional athletes with opinions.
“Stick to dribbling”
Perhaps most laughable is Ingraham’s attempt to paint James as some sort of dense caveman, capable of only dribbling and dunking. Aside from his business empire, he has been at the vanguard in promoting players’ rights and his foundation has committed over $40 million dollars to pay for Akron students’ tuition at the University of Akron. He has long championed the importance of education. James willingness to tackle these issues, to not worry that “Republicans buy sneakers too,” has made him one of the most powerful voices in professional sports and emboldened other NBA players to speak out on social issues.
Trump has lost this fight. Friends, when it comes time to vote, choose any and all Democrats. It’s the best (and only) way to ensure these racist, ignorant jackals are on the next freighter out of the country come Autumn 2018 and 2020. Remember and live the words of PE’s Chuck D: “Fight the power!!!”
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