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Sports News Without Fear, Favor or Compromise
Sports News Without Fear, Favor or Compromise

LeBron James Missed a Wide-Open Jumper

LeBron James missed a golden opportunity to remind fans to vote.
LeBron James missed a golden opportunity to remind fans to vote.
Illustration: Eric Barrow (Getty Images)

LeBron James missed what should have been a layup.

Sure, you can argue that the NBA should have allowed players the freedom to express themselves with personal social justice messages on the back of their jerseys.

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Instead, the NBA came up with a list of league-approved messages that can be worn by players instead of their last name when the NBA resumes the season later this month in Orlando.

Players will get to choose from a list of 29 messages. The No. 1 choice by players was “Equality.”

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Some players, however, weren’t totally cool with the list and balked at it.

James simply declined altogether.

“It was no disrespect to the list that was handed down to all the players,” James told the media in a conference call on Saturday from Florida. “I commend anyone that decided to put something on the back of their jersey.

“It’s just something that didn’t seriously resonate with my mission, with my goal.”

HELLO! Is this on?

LeBron had the perfect message to go on his jersey, and an “approved” message, too. It should read: VOTE

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It makes total sense. Best of all, it’s as important as taking to the streets to fight against police brutality and for social justice. For real change to take place in this country, new legislation and laws must become reality.

And in order to get that done, you have to vote in people who are willing to take up the fight for real change in a country filled with still many racial problems.

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That’s why LeBron should have jumped at the chance to push this message to the masses. Many look up to him on and off the court. This was right up his alley to continue having an impact on young people.

Back in June, LeBron and a group of other prominent Black athletes and entertainers started a new group aimed at protecting the voting rights of Blacks.

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It’s called More Than a Vote. The goal is simple. The organization will try to get young African Americans to both register and vote in the important upcoming November general election.

This would have been a perfect marriage. Every time the camera was on LeBron, you would have seen the word vote. It would have been inescapable.

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LeBron then could have talked about it after every on-court interview and in the postgame press conference, too.

Through the highly-watched and anticipated postseason, with so many eyeballs on the NBA, many would have no choice but to seriously consider taking the next step and making their vote count.

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Back when James talked about forming this group, he revealed that it would use his high-profile platform on social media to combat voter suppression and he would be vocal about drawing attention to any attempts to restrict racial minorities.

“Yes, we want you to go out and vote, but we’re also going to give you the tutorial,” James told The New York Times. “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.”

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But, somehow, James claimed none of the messages on the approved list registered with him.

This is really strange and hard to figure out.

It’s also a bad look. The NBA tried to do something to bring attention to the plight of Black and brown people as a real movement was started after the murder of George Floyd at the hand of a white cop in Minneapolis.

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And by far, LeBron is the brightest star with the biggest stage. Without question, his missing presence dims the platform and the idea behind the messages. In essence, LeBron threw a wet blanket over what was supposed to be a fire starter for NBA fans.

The bigger story will be why LeBron doesn’t have a message on his back. Fans will tune in and see many players with messages, but LeBron’s back will look like always — with just his last name.

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Still, James said he will continue to use the NBA’s platform.

“I will not stop until I see real change for us as Black America, for African Americans, for people of color,” James told reporters.

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It’s hard to believe that such a talented player could miss a bunny at the rim. But that’s what LeBron did in this case. And it’s a shame.

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