Wednesday, superstar LeBron James of the Los Angeles Lakers came under fire for attending his son Bronny’s first collegiate basketball game at the Galen Center. Bronny had a heart crisis in the summer, and James found himself in the spotlight again.
Luca Evans, a reporter for the Orange County Register, posted a video on X showing James entering the arena with his son Bryce, two teammates from Sierra Canyon High School, and another spectator as the national anthem came on. Viewers were taken aback by James’ decision to sit down for the national anthem while wearing his cap, a departure from the usual routine. Even after he stood up towards the end of the video, his detractors still said he had “zero respect” for the United States and even sinned against it.
When the video went viral, Evans took to X to confront the blowback. “As the reporter who took this video, this is gross and completely mischaracterizes the situation,” he pointed out. In Bronny’s tenure at Sierra Canyon, LeBron has done this for years. If he wants to avoid making a big fuss, this is the time to stroll in, according to all observations. Quit doing it.
The event brought back memories of the 2020 protests in which James and other NBA players wore “Black Lives Matter” jerseys and kneeled during the national anthem in response to the police-involved shooting of Jacob Blake. In that turbulent time, when bubble games were common and people were more cognizant of racial injustice after George Floyd’s killing, James said he hoped Colin Kaepernick would be “proud” of they did.
In uneasy times, Kap was the type to stand up. While others were either too stupid or too stubborn to pay attention to what he had to say, James clarified. “You go back and look at any of his postgame interviews when he was talking about why he was kneeling — it had absolutely nothing to do about the flag, he had absolutely nothing to do about soldiers.”
Despite the protests in 2020, James reportedly hasn’t kneeled during the national anthem since then. The current backlash, meanwhile, shows how delicate the subject of these kinds of gestures is, especially when seen through the lens of professional sports’ social and political activity.