LeBron James vs. Uncle Gary
What Social Activist LeBron James is trying to sell you is that he is Black first. Now when LeBron was 10, that was absolutely the truth, he had to endure many hardships that Black Americans have to face coming from broken homes.
But some time in his teens, LeBron started to question his revenue streams and started talking about being a businessman first. By the time LeBron was 20, he was still undeniably Black, but being Rich was his first priority.
Matthew 6:24 - New King James Version
“No one can serve two masters; for either he will hate the one and love the other, or else he will be loyal to the one and despise the other. You cannot serve God and [money]."
And I'm not trying to convince you that LeBron's not Black today, he obviously is. Today, we are going to delineate the differences between making decisions based on your race and making decisions based on your pocketbook.
We've mentioned this before, but it is worth reviewing. Social Activist LeBron James is very brave. Well, specifically when the slice of social justice he is looking for is action against White police officers vs Black citizens. White police officers killing white citizens? I read about that in Libertarian publications like Reason Magazine. Black citizens killing other Black citizens? I read about that at Conservative websites like The Blaze which reminds us that inner city crime is out of control. (True, but The Blaze is telling you that fact for a reason.)
But by using his Bully Pulpit as being one of the most recognizable athletes in the world, he is selling you his blackness and that America is racist. It is important for LeBron to be seen as Black and not Rich because he has a Brand to build. A Rich man selling overpriced merchandise to underprivileged youth is distasteful. A Black man selling overpriced merchandise to underprivileged youth is courageous.
Here is the key point as to where LeBron is taking missteps. At one time, James thought a sizable portion of his salary was being paid for by those 10 year old Black kids from all across this nation. That absolutely wasn't the case. Was 10 year old LeBron helping to build the NBA in the 90's? Uh, no. He was part of their core audience, just like I was part of the NHL's core audience when I was a teen. The NBA grew, when the NHL didn't, because they corralled the casual sports fan. There is a quiet undercurrent that LeBron James isn't taking the NBA to new heights, but killing the Golden Goose. How so? By pissing off my Uncle Gary....
Even though he is my uncle by marriage, coincidentally Uncle Gary grew up in the same hometown as me. Gary's parents stayed together and provided him with a middle-class upbringing. When Gary graduated high school, he had to work his way through college and worked for the local school district. (In theory he could have been my bus driver and I didn't even know it.)
Now I write about LeBron in my blog, but I never actually gave LeBron any of my money. I don't buy Nike gear, I never went to a LeBron-led Cavs game, and I don't watch LeBron movie productions. I still wear a beat up Cavs t-shirt my Aunt bought me 20 years ago. LeBron can say "that damn Beacon of Speech is run by a bunch of racists" and I don't care. I don't like being called a racist, but I've been called lots of untrue names in my life. (Another story for another day.)
But once Gary became successful at his business through hard work, he began buying season tickets to Cavs games. Every year. It was a bonding time for him and his family. Uncle Gary is a good man and he doesn't see race. He loved LeBron, he was a winner. He liked basketball. He bought his son posters of many Cavs players including LeBron. He probably spent $50,000 on the Cavs in his life. It was his one vice.
Now Gary, on the other hand, was chafed by LeBron's declarations of racism. "I will never spend one more penny on the NBA and will never spend another penny on gear LeBron endorses. Every time he opens his mouth, he's calling me a racist, because that's what you're doing when you attack the police and sell 'Institutional Racism.'"
At the end of the day, did being Black prevent LeBron from making a billion dollars in America? It has not, Uncle Gary would lament. Maybe Uncle Gary should come work at Beacon of Speech. (Hint: I cannot pay him enough to pry him from his job.)
LeBron doesn't care if he kills the NBA because he is tired of putting money in White Men's (NBA owners') pockets, even though he has made $275 million over his NBA career and has a GUARANTEED contract for another $100 million more. For you and me, that's F-U money. Yet for LeBron, that's only about a third of his wealth. Because his NBA expiration date is almost up, LeBron has no vested interest in the NBA succeeding after he is done playing. James has a vested interest in leveraging the NBA to promote his message. He also has interest in his studio thriving and in continuing to sell the LeBron Brand through the commercialization of his playing career.
That is called diversifying your portfolio.
When Jacob Blake was shot in Kenosha, Wisconsin, the NBA Players immediately went on strike. Building the LeBron Brand included moving the needle for the Black Lives Matter movement. Social Justice couldn't wait. You know what sucks? Just playing basketball. Not because James should shut up and dribble, but because from multiple reports, playing in the NBA Bubble simply isn't any fun.
It took former President Barack Obama to explain to James that he was hurting the BLM movement more by not playing. How so? Because if the NBA Players shut down the season, literally every other sport would have occupied the void left by the NBA. No basketball, no platform. Every time the players run down the court, BLM is getting their message out.
Despite restaurants having restricted seating, movie theaters being nearly empty, bars closed or open with restrictions, sports should be having record setting viewership with people who are stuck at home.
But they're not. NBA ratings are down 10-20%.
Have I watched basketball since it's been back? Here and there. NASCAR was one of the first sports to return, but I ain't watching NASCAR. Not for any cultural reasons, but because NASCAR sucks. But the rest of sports? I've watched NFL football, baseball, boxing, wrestling, basketball, hockey, UFC, and soccer since they've been back. Last weekend, I watched Arkansas State upset Kansas State in a college football game that I would have never watched in the past. People are STARVING to watch sports.
So if there's more people in front of their televisions, why are less people watching? The NBA spins it that basketball isn't a summer sport. That's hogwash....
Uncle Gary now comes home from work during a pandemic, has dinner, and turns on the TV. He flips through a few stations and calls to his wife "you wanna watch Netflix?" His son runs by "going over to ----'s house."
"Alright, have fun," he replies. Gary scrolls through his phone, responds to a few work issues, then heads off for a night of television. He doesn't even consider watching basketball anymore, he's just moved on. Because Gary wasn't a hardcore fan, he was a casual fan.
I'll say this again, LeBron James has money in the bank, he and Kyrie Irving could start a whole new basketball league. James Basketball Incorporated could be basketball with a side order of Black Lives Matter competing against the greedy National Basketball Association and their evil owners. Then, using capitalism, let's see which BUSINESS model survives in the marketplace.
You could be hyperventilating while reading this article. "Racism must be stopped!"
At the end of the day, everything must be stopped. Global warming must be stopped. Prejudice must be stopped. Cancer must be stopped. Poverty must be stopped. Child Abuse must be stopped. Mental Illness must be stopped....
While I was working on this article, police shot another unarmed youth, this time in Utah. The boy was only 13 years old. Why haven't you heard about Linden Cameron from LeBron James and CNN? Because Linden Cameron was white.
As a Libertarian-leaning website, we agree wholeheartedly that police reform needs to occur. But when you cite the reason as institutional racism, you neglect core issues of abuse of power. Young Linden Cameron was going through a mental health episode. I'm not screaming "say his name," but I could cite statistics that there's more mentally ill Americans of all races than any other one specific minority group. Solutions to reforming the police are complex. [And cost a lot of money.] Slashing budgets makes the cops even more stressed and less patient when dealing with mentally ill citizens.
Have you noticed that most people who are trying to convince you that Racism is the most important issue in the nation are the rich? They want you to hate your neighbor of another color instead of the Rich of any specific color.
If you really pushed LeBron, he would back away from starting his own league. Why? Because he couldn't out pay the NBA for young Black Men coming out of college. Hey (19 year old kid), would you rather make $100 million in the NBA, or make $20 million in the JBI? (You'll be a social justice warrior, though.) How do you think that's going to go for Businessman LeBron?
Now you're defending LeBron, saying it's not his job to start his own league. Dwayne "The Rock" Johnson just bought the XFL, making him one of the few African Americans to run a Sports League since Negro League Baseball times. If LeBron wants to own the game instead of being a player in the game, he wouldn't even have to go the JBI route. He could buy the EuroLeague and put his stamp on the global basketball marketplace.
All problems have solutions. LeBron James cherry picks certain incidents in the police reform argument to portray America as racist. Then he markets his product to those who share the same world view.
“In the next 15 or 20 years, I hope I’ll be the richest man in the world. That’s one of my goals. I want to be a billionaire." -Young LeBron James
The question is, did LeBron underestimate Uncle Gary and his ilk? You know, non-racists who can see that LeBron is simply moving far-left talking points for profit.
What do I mean? If you are a Black Billionaire who embraces the Right:
You are a sell-out.
You forgot your roots.
Or you're an Uncle Tom.
If you are a Black Billionaire who embraces the Left, specifically ideals like defunding the police to gain street cred, you are securing a loyal clientele to your Brand based on your words. But no billionaire has ever become rich by prioritizing anything above business interests.
The problem is, eventually a much more well funded website than Beacon of Speech will question LeBron's dedication monetarily. And LeBron will have to decide if it's more important to be a billionaire or a social justice warrior, because then his social justice will have a steep monetary price tag.
(When LeBron picks being a Billionaire over funding social justice, then Uncle Gary justifies his perspective.)