Standing up to the NFL is a lot easier than standing up to China for LeBron James.
James was nowhere to be found when Beijing was cracking down on protesters late last year and when he asked about a tweet from a Houston Rockets official in support of the protesters– like a football player– James punted.
He said “every issue” doesn’t have to be “everybody’s problem” when it comes to China. The move was seen by critics as a move from James not to be canceled in the lucrative Asian country.
But now James, who just announced a major investment into his media company, announced his displeasure with the NFL and asked for a public apology for its treatment of Colin Kaepernick.
The move by James is not a risky one. The NFL has been widely criticized over its treatment of Kaepernick. But the new question is: Why does James think the NFL needs to issue an apology to appease him? And why is James focused on scoring the easy baskets in public opinion and not the challenging ones?
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“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,” James said. “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.”
The assumption is that teams did not sign Kaepernick due to his public protests about police brutality and not because of any lack of skill at the position. Plenty of football players have defended his talent and said it is obvious that he couldn’t find a team due to his protest.
Russell Wilson, the star Seahawks quarterback, said, “Colin is a talented football player. I remember playing against him; the man could play some football. But he stood up for something far more greater than football. And that’s people’s lives. He was standing up for people that have come and gone and for everyone who is African American and the oppression that has been going on.”
But it is James’ criticism of the NFL has raised eyebrows based on his comments back in October about Daryl Morey, Houston Rockets general manager, who tweeted out in support of the Hong Kong protesters fighting against Beijing’s oppression.
James said, “We do have freedom of speech, but there can be a lot of negative things that come with that too,” and “I also don’t think every issue should be everybody’s problem.”
USA Today ran a headline, “LeBron James’ Controversial Comments ‘Further His Brand Power in China,’ which suggests James is as savvy a businessman as he is a player.