LeBron James, once famously told to “shut up and dribble” by condescending Fox News voice Laura Ingraham for speaking his mind on politics, has decided to send a message by not sending a message.
While the NBA has granted players the right to put a select group of social justice messages on their jerseys, the back of LeBron’s No. 23 Los Angeles Lakers jersey will just say “James” when the NBA season resumes in the bubble in Orlando, Fla.
The reason? LeBron had a couple ideas on what his jersey message would be but they’re not on the approved list (see left).
“I commend anyone that decides to put something on the back of their jersey,” James told ESPN. “It’s just something that didn’t seriously resonate with my mission, with my goal. I would have loved to have a say so on what would have went on the back of my jersey. I had a couple things in mind but I wasn’t part of that process and that’s OK.”
By the way, “Group Economics?” What the hell.
Of course LeBron would have had his own, unique message. It would have very likely rankled the likes of Ingraham, as well as owners who are perfectly fine with players and Disney workers risking their lives so the NBA can make money.
LeBron is the most powerful player in the league and he knows it. The bubble, likely, only happens because LeBron has a chance at another championship.
For him to buy into the NBA’s approved words, it would water down the message of one of the most vocal players in the game who is very politically active, even starting a voter registration initiative a month ago.
Good for LeBron for not buying into the NBA’s performative allyship.
Remember that this is a league that officially has a policy against kneeling during the national anthem.
It’s also a league that used to have racist Donald Sterling owning one of its franchises. Sterling is a great reminder of many things that can be true of racists:
- You can date … err… have an archivist who is a Black Mexican woman and still be racist.
- You can have many well-paid Black employees and still be racist.
Sterling’s gone of course, but only because V. Stiviano made recordings of his racist rants, which included him being mad at her for hanging out with Magic Johnson. Imagine not liking Magic Johnson.
You think Sterling’s the only racist in a league of predominantly white billionaires? A group of so-called “job creators” who largely had to be shamed by their own players and fans into paying arena employees during the sports shutdown. They know they have to let the players make some sort of statement, but by approving somewhat mainstream ideas, they can control it and hopefully make all keep the masses at home watching basketball and not trying to break down the system that benefits the one percent.
Don’t forget that Glen Taylor, owner of the Minnesota Timberwolves, said he hoped protesters calling for justice after the killing of George Floyd by four Minneapolis cops would “send their message through prayer and silent demonstrations.”
Imagine telling protesters to shut up and dribble.
LeBron will have his voice heard, one way or another. And it likely won’t be something the NBA approves, either.