By Robert Jonathan
NBA superstar LeBron James, the self-proclaimed greatest player of all time, made headlines recently by accusing NFL owners of harboring a slave mentality and also sharing anti-Semitic rap lyrics on his Instagram page. FS1 panelist and Fox Sports Radio host Clay Travis says that LBJ benefits from athlete privilege which is enabled, in large part, by the fawning liberal sports media. Plus, the Lakers luminary himself could be a something of a modern-day slave master for his Nike sneaker deal, Travis argued.
The sports media industry, moreover, is making a big mistake by trying to glorify LeBron James as an insightful social commentator, Travis insinuated.
Shut Up and Sing 2.0
Back in February, when LeBron James and Kevin Durant engaged in some virtue signaling by bashing President Trump, FNC host Laura Ingraham suggested that the pro basketball VIPs should shut up and dribble.
Ingraham’s quip was a callback to her book about the progressive-posturing entertainment industry titled Shut Up and Sing.
'Shut up and dribble' — Fox News's Laura Ingraham to LeBron and Kevin Durant after their criticism of President Trump pic.twitter.com/0BlokQDIIl
— Sports Illustrated (@SInow) February 16, 2018
Almost in unison, the left-wing mainstream media and its sports journalism auxiliary denounced Ingraham for daring to ridicule LeBron James, Clay Travis explained on his Outkick the Coverage blog.
“This is emblematic of an incredible double standard — most in the sports media leap to defend anyone in the ‘woke’ media like James while refusing to criticize players when they behave stupidly. The result is the sports media is holding James to such a low standard that his behavior doesn’t in any way correspond with the banal and trite political stances he’s embraced…When LeBron gets attacked as being dumb or told to shut up and dribble, the sports media defends him by the legion, but when he’s dumb and would be better off shutting up and dribbling, he still gets defended by the same sports media. LeBron gets a free pass no matter what he does.”
Ingraham’s criticism perhaps left a psychological mark, given that emerging Hollywood mogul LeBron James is producing a three-episode, Showtime documentary about athlete activism called Shut Up & Dribble, reports Brietbart News. There are different categories of activism, but the show will undoubtedly feature the left-wing, i.e. social justice, variety.
Clay Travis on LeBron James and the Media
On a recent Periscope broadcast in reacting to LeBron James’ slave mentality and “Jewish money” rap lyric reference, the former which was made on the HBO show The Shop that apparently no one watches, Travis similarly summarized his thoughts in this way:
“When Laura Ingraham came out and said LeBron James needed to shut up and dribble, immediately it was a sign of racism. I got to tell you –- if LeBron James is going to make comments like this, he should shut up and dribble, because he’s not advancing the national conversation and discourse in any way. In fact, he’s actually dumbing it down because he doesn’t have the intellectual faculties to elevate the conversation in an intelligent way…LeBron James is a smart basketball player; that doesn’t mean that intelligence translates anywhere else.”
Rich Athlete Privilege
During his monologue, Travis called out James — who reportedly has a $400 million net worth — for confusing slavery with labor and employment, between which there is no parallel, especially considering a pro athlete’s lavish compensation and lifestyle.
“I think this is where LeBron and many other athletes are totally out of touch with reality because most of them have never had actual jobs…they have #athleteprivilege…Unlike in slavery, which was involuntary…LeBron and any other athlete can quit working in athletics and go do something else…you do not get the right to compare working for millions of dollars with slavery…”
Terms and Conditions of Employment, Not Slavery
New York Post media columnist Phil Mushnick expressed similar sentiments about employees throughout the economy having to follow the directives of the employer or get another job:
“Can he be that lost? That’s the term of employment for all, the butcher, baker and candlestick maker. To compare athletes making an average of $2.1 million for seasonal work to Antebellum whips-and-chains slaves is disgusting. NFL “slaves” have the one great freedom Southern slaves did not — the freedom to quit.”
In an apology, James claimed he was unaware that “Jewish money” was an anti-Semitic stereotype, instead claiming that he thought it was a compliment that was contained in “great music.”
To that, Mushnick wrote…
“James’ non-apology apology — another of those contingency ‘If’ numbers — was bereft of now-I-get-it contrition…Offended? As a Jew, I’m more offended by such a dismissive, no-hard-feelings alibi.”
LeBron James vs. Phil Jackson
Both Mushnick and Clay Travis recalled how LeBron James implied that it was racist for former New York Knicks President Phil Jackson’s to use the word “posse” to describe the superstar’s associates.
“James’ point was well-taken and delivered in a flood of national news and radio and TV discussion for over a week,” Mushnick remembered.
Travis noted how the sports media uniformly took LeBron James’ side over Jackson, and how similarly, none of the scribes questioned the accuracy of his recent comments about NFL ownership. “This is not a fair and impartial media; this is a media that treats some people more fairly than others,” he said.
Travis also contrasted how the media industry reacted to Megyn Kelly’s idiotic Halloween blackface comments that got her fired from NBC News with the muted reaction to the LeBron James remarks about Jews that he insisted were complimentary. “The outrage is one-sided,” he observed, especially since the media establishment concluded in the Kelly case that ignorance could never be a valid excuse.
Last week @KingJames said white NFL owners were slavemasters & helped promote the most negative stereotype of Jews which has endured for centuries. How did the sports media respond? They defended him. Really. Read & share this: https://t.co/gV0ebxZqvX
— Clay Travis (@ClayTravis) December 27, 2018
Perpetually outraged Max Kellerman, the political correctness protector who co-hosts ESPN’s First Take, also asserted that he was not offended by LeBron James’ remarks about Jews.
Said Travis about Kellerman’s response and the apparent double standard:
“How can you justify saying ‘oh, LeBron James propagating the worst stereotype that exists about Jews in the world is okay, but using the words Washington Redskins is unacceptable and the Notre Dame Fighting Irish mascot is also unacceptable.’”
It’s also ironic that ESPN itself, a.k.a. the LeBron James network, has positioned itself as a “woke,” social justice platform, yet it has aligned itself with many hip-hop artists despite their lyrics dripping with misogyny.
LeBron and Slave Labor?
On his blog, Clay Travis, who has previously described himself as a radical moderate, drew attention to the King James’ billion-dollar contract with Nike.
“If anyone is a slave master in the modern-day sports marketplace, it’s LeBron. His posse has recently boasted about his billion-dollar lifetime contract with Nike. Do you know what that billion dollars going to LeBron is built upon? Virtual slave labor in Indonesia where his high-priced shoes are made…if LeBron’s going to accuse team owners — who are paying their employees hundreds of millions of dollars a year to play a game — of being slave owners, shouldn’t he have to answer for why he doesn’t pay the makers of his own shoes better?…LeBron is the slavemaster in this equation and his plantation is in Indonesia, a country he’s probably never even bothered to visit.
“Now, again, this is global capitalism — and global capitalism has lifted more people out of poverty than anything in world history — so I don’t begrudge LeBron his money, but don’t you think LeBron should have to answer questions about this if he’s going to call American team owners slave masters?”
Watch the NSFW Clay Travis Periscope broadcast below and draw your own conclusions.
LeBRON James is an idiot, NFL playoff picture, my rookie of year and MVP picks, Colts-Titans playoff playin https://t.co/dcCs72L9T6
— Clay Travis (@ClayTravis) December 24, 2018
LeBron James and the Resistance
Apart from Clay Travis, his FS1 colleague Jason Whitlock is perhaps the only non-virtue signaling journalist currently active in national television sports media.
Reacting to James’ NFL critique on his FS1 show Speak for Yourself, Whitlock claimed that LBJ has good intentions, but seems unwilling to debate issues with those who may disagree.
Whitlock has repeatedly pointed out that the professional football has elevated many African-American players to millionaire status, something which is not reflected, for example, in the discussions on the HBO episode.
“I don’t think these comments are fair; I don’t think they’re accurate. My problem with the show The Shop [is] there is no ‘resistance.’ There’s no pushback. There’s no discussion.”
As a footnote to his NFL criticism, LeBron James praised progressive NBA Commissioner Adam Silver for allowing players to express their feelings about issues.
With that in mind, Jason Whitlock wondered if Silver’s predecessor David Stern or the league owners harbored a slave mentality when Stern immediately suspended Mahmoud Abdul-Rauf (Chris Jackson) in 1996 for refusing to stand for the National Anthem in pre-game ceremonies.
“How come no one in the NBA [has taken] a knee?,” Whitlock wondered about James and other NBA players, while pointing out that some NFL players still take a knee during the playing of the Star-Spangled Banner and that Colin Kaepernick played an entire NFL season during his original protest.
Drunk on Social Media?
Social justice advocacy is a superficial way for LeBron James to get attention on Twitter and elsewhere, Jason Whitlock insisted.
“My disappointment with LeBron James is he is someone who is addicted to social media, and most of his thoughts that are being publicly expressed now are Twitter and Instagram deep…these type comments are what make people say ‘man, just stick to basketball. You’re not even a serious, thoughtful person. You’re just saying sh— to get attention.’…This dude constantly doesn’t know what the hell he’s talking about and goes too far because he is ‘drunk’ on Twitter and social media and turned into a race baiter…
“It’s a nice, little gimmick, this social justice deal…social media is dumbing down our conversation about race and important issues, and we just try to assassinate each other’s characters rather than truly trying to understand each other.”
Watch Jason Whitlock discuss LeBron James’s inflammatory statements in the video below, and again, draw your own conclusions
In case the video clip disappears from the Internet, you can listen to the audio embedded below (starting at about the 38-minute mark).
He’s with Her
You may recollect that LeBron James campaigned (unsuccessfully) for Hillary Clinton in Ohio during the 2016 election and showed up wearing a Beto O’Rourke hat during the 2018 midterms. Both political displays won the approval of blue-check Twitter.
As a thought experiment, imagine how Commissioner Silver — or the sports media — might react if an NBA player wore a MAGA hat to a game or donned a Ted Cruz 2018 or Trump 2020 T-shirt for warm-up drills or even as before- or after-game apparel.
Recall too how the sports media suffered a nervous breakdown when New England Patriots superstar Tom Brady was spotted with a MAGA hat in his locker. The apolitical Brady, who is somewhere within the process of a career switch from NFL championship quarterback to lifestyle guru, never endorsed his friend Trump or talked about politics at all, and, in fact, has carefully distanced himself from the president.,
Insofar as the dispute between the NBA champion and Phil Jackson as juxtaposed with the Lebron James NFL slave mentality allegation, Jason Whitlock concluded that “If you don’t want to be generalized about, why generalize about others?”
A registered independent, Robert Jonathan is a longtime writer/editor for viral news aggregation websites with a focus on politics and other trending topics. He earned a Juris Doctorate degree from “a law school the basketball teams can be proud of.”