The sports world is still reeling in populist rage over NBA superstar LeBron James’ decision to leave his hometown Cleveland Cavaliers for the Miami Heat. And in an interview on CNN this week, James tentatively conceded to Soledad O’Brien that at least some of the backlash was racially motivated. (See the video above.)
Asked by Soledad O’Brien if race was a factor in the fallout, which say Cleveland fans burn jerseys in the street, James said, “I think so, at times. There’s always — you know, a race factor.”
The star reiterated his comments when pressed by reporters after a Heat practice on Thursday.
“I’m not going to go back on my words,” he said. “I answered the question. I think people are looking too far into it. But, at the same time, sometimes it does play a part in it.
“But I’ve said what I have to say and I continue to move on.”
The Los Angeles Times points out that James’ teammates agreed. Chris Bosh noted that race is “embedded” and “hopefully, we’ve moved past it.” Dwayne Wade was similarly evasive, noting that the backlash was “unfortunate.”
It’s not a candid discussion on race, and certainly nothing to the furor that was ignited by Jesse Jackson over the summer. Upset at Cavaliers owner Dan Gilbert’s nasty letter about James to Cleveland fans, Jackson said that Gilbert “sees LeBron as a runaway slave.”
After Jackson’s comments back in July, ColorLines readers went at it. How about this time?