New team, new opponent: LeBron James meets new opposition off the court

Jordan Hunter
Aug 5, 2018 · 4 min read
Courtesy: Los Angeles Times

Would you be surprised if I told you that the President of the United States, leader of the free world, has an ongoing beef with one of the best professional athletes in the history of sports? Maybe if we were dealing with a normal president or one who even thought, just for a little bit, what was about to come out of his mouth or on his Twitter page.

In just the latest war of words between Donald Trump and new Los Angeles Lakers forward LeBron James, Trump took a shot at James’ intelligence. In response to a sit-down interview between James and CNN anchor Don Lemon, Trump tweeted, “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!”

It has already been well-documented Trump’s hatred for CNN and their tendency to spew out “fake news.” But to call Lemon the “dumbest man on television” is not only extremely insulting but also incorrect. Lemon has a degree in broadcast journalism from Brooklyn College and has an Emmy and Edward R. Murrow Award to his name, which, for those who don’t know, is a highly prestigous journalism award. He’s reported in Birmingham, Philadelphia and St. Louis as well as worked as a correspondent on Today and NBC Nightly News. He currently hosts CNN Tonight, where, in January, he famously introduced a broadcast by saying, “This is CNN Tonight, I’m Don Lemon. The President of the United States is racist.” That, along with countless other instances where he’s criticized Trump, make it safe to say he’s not the biggest fan of the president.

But Lemon wasn’t the target of the tweet. It was James, who has been critical of Trump since before he stepped into office. The same LeBron James who, just last week, opened a school. Yes, an actual public school in his hometown of Akron, Ohio. The I Promise School will be free, provide free uniforms, bikes and helmets, transportation within 2 miles, and breakfast, lunch and a snack daily. Oh, and get this added bonus. His school guarantees tuition to the University of Akron for every one of his students who go to high school and graduate. James has always been very involved with youth education in Ohio and this new school is the cherry on top. Regardless of what you may think about him on the court, you cannot deny his inspirational involvement in his community.

All these great athletes in the major American sports have a platform. Millions of people watching them give them that platform. But they aren’t all as willing to use their platform to give back. Granted, not all athletes are paid as handsomely as James in salary and off-court endorsements. But the amount of that money he uses and the time he takes as an active player in the NBA to have an impact on these kids’ life is commendable. It is why he is the most respected player in the league.

That’s why Trump saying it isn’t easy to make James look smart is such a low-blow. Yes, James did not attend college. But, let’s be real. James going to college for what we all know would’ve amounted to barely nine months has no bearing on his intelligence. It stings because Trump can’t truly believe that, can he? Does he actually believe that James, whose brand when it’s all said and done will probably be worth $1 billion, is not smart? No way. This is another instance of our president throwing a tantrum when he is called out. We have seen it time and time again in the past three years, just childish name-calling and bullying. The comical part of this is that Trump previously praised James on multiple occasions when he was a member of the Miami Heat.

Trump’s involvement in sports is unlike anything we’ve ever seen from a sitting president and that’s what James touched on in interviews with both Lemon and ESPN’s Rachel Nichols.

Courtesy: TIME

Since sports became racially integrated, it has been a time of unity. People of all races come together to cheer on their favorite player or team. More recently, we’ve seen athletes speak out about social and political issues. That is fine and, honestly, should be encouraged. Sometimes, we forget they are still people with opinions and have the right to speak out for or against something that they feel strongly about. The President of the United States, however, should not be personally attacking players. He shouldn’t be calling for Colin Kaepernick to be fired for kneeling during the national anthem to protest racial inequality and police brutality. His voice and opinions are not needed and certainly are not wanted.

James is right. Trump has created a divide that has no place in sports. He has portrayed Kaepernick as the villian, not the courageous hero doing something that’s never been done before on such a large scale. He thrusted America’s Sport into the center of one of its biggest injustices. And because of that, he is out of a job. A small price to pay to ignite a much-needed national conversation.

James has been told to shut up and dribble. He’s been called divisive for commenting on the president. And now he’s essentially been called dumb by the leader of this country. We’ve seen him battle on the court against the The Big Three Boston Celtics, the flawless Spurs, and most recently, the juggernaut Golden State Warriors. Hell, he’s been battling since he was a skinny kid growing up in a single-parent home in Akron. He isn’t losing sleep over a Trump tweet.

President Donald Trump bashes Lakers forward LeBron James on Twitter. Wow. I would’ve never thought I’d read that headline. Welcome to 2018.

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