On The Eve Of The NBA Finals, LeBron James Reminded Us That's He's Human With His Response To Racism
I knew that the six basketball-less days prior to the series that we have all been not-so-patiently waiting for would contain some nauseatingly repetitive narratives, but I can't say I thought they would feature the storyline that has served as the unrelenting skeleton in this country's closet for hundreds of years. Seriously, I thought I would be pleasantly surprised if we were talking about anything other than Steph Curry's fictitious finals struggles or the differences between LeBron James and some former outfielder that had a cup of coffee with the Chicago White Sox come Wednesday. Turns out those mind numbing, time killing arguments/debates would have been welcomed with open arms given the cold, harsh spin to reality the NBA news cycle was forced into taking. Every sports fan has been sitting here obnoxiously tapping their foot and loudly sighing in anticipation of Battle III in the 'The War Of The Titans'. However, the cowardice of one person who beliefs aren't as rare as we would like to believe made us quit our bitching and realize that the subject of nearly every basketball article that has been written during June for the last 7 years is - indeed - a human being.
And you know what, as often as LeBron James' eyebrow-raising words and actions constantly remind us that he was basically 15-going-on-30 with how much of his life has been lived in front of the general public, he proved that he's a human being who is all-too-cognizant of at least one social issue.
A weird feeling came over me as I listened to the victim of the type of racist vandalism that we blissfully pretend was yielded by the feel good ending to 'Glory Road'. It was empathy for a professional athlete that is financially and genetically inclined to give his children the world...but somehow still can't possibly make them feel safe in it. For all the times he has defied gravity, he still can't out jump the cruel clutches of something as silly as his skin color. The seemingly superhuman specimen whose abilities are so rare that literally the worst thing you could say about him is "he might not be the best basketball player ever...yet" had to step away from the game's brightest lights because there are still people that view him as less than a person because his skin tone isn't sensitive to them.
LeBron James wasn't just absolutely right in everything that he said, he was painfully accurate. For all the progressive strides society has made, it still - either intentionally or institutionally - hasn't wholly embraced African Americans as equals. Many of us will never know the extent to which race plays a part in the day-to-day lives of minorities so before we tune into the showcase of a predominantly black sport we should remember that as good as the lives of a vast majority of the participants seem, they still strangely matter less to some. For all the conditional love that athletes get, those that tend to run faster and jump higher still can't completely escape unconditional hate.
As much fun as it is to dissect our inherent inability to relate to his lavish lifestyle, we should all hail 'King James' here. Not just because he's a multigenerational talent, but because he took off the veil and uncloaked himself to speak openly and honestly about a multigenerational problem that sadly doesn't appear to have a solution in it's near future.