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LeBron James will inevitably become the NBA’s all-time leading scorer. James passing Kareem Abdul-Jabbar’s 38,387 career points has been a matter of “when” instead of “if” for a long time.
It’s an incredible accomplishment, one rivaled only by what could be the puffiest, most smoke-blowing, speak-no-evil articles ever hammered out on a keyboard.
And it comes courtesy of The New York Times.
I know. Shocking right?
In her piece, “LeBron James Keeps the World Watching,” writer Tania Ganguli — who has covered LeBron as a Lakers beat writer since 2018 — goes out of her way to paint one of the most successful athletes in modern history as a sympathetic character, even as he’s days away from breaking perhaps the most remarkable record in the sport.
To do that, she ignores anything that can be even remotely seen as a blemish on LeBron’s record.
Let’s start with this. One of the article’s main throughlines is how LeBron yearns to experience life outside the spotlight that’s been shining on him since high school.
Sure Sounds Like Someone Who Wants To Shy Away From The Spotlight…
However, the article starts with LeBron calling his mother while in the locker room at Madison Square Garden — on speakerphone — with a media scrum surrounding him.
“He called her on speakerphone, with a dozen attentive reporters close by. He asked when she was leaving, reminding her every once in a while, lest she disclose too much, that reporters could hear the conversation, Ganguli writes. “Eventually, he looked around, sheepishly, and said he would call her later.”
This is a guy who wants to shy away from the spotlight? Sure sounds that way. It’s not like he could’ve waited about 15 minutes to call her privately like the “normal” person he yearns to be.
LeBron is also quoted talking about how he wishes he could go to normal, everyday places like without the riff-raff of being LeBron. That certainly hasn’t stopped him from strolling into Miami hookah bars by himself, but it makes for a good quote.
James Just Wants To Be One Of Us
“I wish I could go to Target sometimes and walk into Starbucks and have my name on the cup just like regular people,” He’s quoted as saying.
In fairness, I have that same wish about Starbucks cups. I can’t tell you how many times I’ve over-annunciated my name — MATT— only to get a cup that says Nat, Pat, or Max. I guarantee that the first time Lebron goes into Starbucks instead of making his assistant do it, he’ll get a cup with “JeBraun” written on it.
Well, at least he says he’s not complaining about the trials and tribulations of not being able to retrieve one’s own coffee.
“I’m not sitting here complaining about it, of course not. But it can be challenging at times,” he said.
Sir, that is complaining by definition.
The New York Times Fawned Over LeBron’s Social Activism But Ignored His Support Of China
So, while we’ve established that LeBron’s wish to be normal is nothing but a performative PR move, you can’t fault a guy for playing the media like a fiddle if they’ll let him.
The folks we should fault are those in the media who take his bait hook-line and sinker.
LeBron is one of the few figures across sports and pop culture who, for whatever reason, is held accountable approximately 0.00% of the time.
The New York Times article makes a big to-do about LeBron’s social activism, like how outspoken he has especially been on racial and policing matters.
However, there’s no mention of any of his controversial takes on the matter. Take for instance the time he tweeted the words “YOU’RE NEXT” with an hourglass emoji and #accountability. That was seen as a threat directed at an officer, and James eventually deleted the tweet.
Now, if you’re wondering which officer he was talking about, it was the Columbus officer who saved a woman’s life by shooting and killing 16-year-old Ma’Khia Bryant who charged at the woman with a knife.
At least his opinion on these matters is clearly well-informed. LeBron doesn’t speak out on issues unless he feels he has enough background knowledge on the matter.
That’s how The New York Times defended his hesitation to speak out against China. They said it stemmed from a lack of knowledge on the subject. Although, that didn’t stop him from criticizing an officer’s use of deadly force, despite limited knowledge of police work.
The Chinese Elephant In The Room
The Times did discuss how James has faced criticism for not piping up against his and the league’s ties to the undeniably oppressive government running the show in China. They singled out one instance in particular to highlight this
In 2019, Houston Rockets executive Daryl Morey tweeted in support of anti-CCP protestors in Hong Kong. Many around the NBA, were quick to distance themselves from Morey’s comments.
“James said he did not know enough to talk about them, but some skeptics accused him of avoiding the subject to protect his financial interests in China,” Ganguli wrote.
Apologies on behalf of The New York Times if that word in this context made you roll your eyes so hard they almost popped out of your head.
LeBron usually goes radio silent on China, however, The Times archives show that LeBron did speak out on the Morey matter.
The only problem is he defended China, saying that Morey was “misinformed” on the matter.
“Skeptics” — to borrow a term from The New York Times — aren’t just critical of his typical silence, it’s this overt support of the Chinese government.
LeBron Turns A Blind Eye
Even if he wasn’t aware of the situation enough to comment, that hasn’t stopped him from holding court during press conferences on other matters. Y’know, like policing. That said, you don’t need a lot of info on the CCP to say, at the very least that you’re not a fan.
I don’t do business with China and have never been there. Even I’m acutely aware of the mountain of evidence that has emerged over the years to confidently choke out the words “The Chinese government is bad.”
LeBron is aware of this too, whether he says it or not, and whether The Times wants to jump to his defense or not.
It read like this that mention of that 2019 incident was shoehorned into the middle of the article by design. Almost as if it was done so that The Times could say, “See, we mentioned it! You can’t say we didn’t!”
Almost like they knew what they were doing…
LeBron Gets the Benefit Of The Doubt From The Media While Others Don’t
To me, the problem here is legacy media’s picking and choosing over who gets a glowing profile and whose lifelong CV gets the fine-toothed comb treatment.
Look at any recent story you’ve read about the likes of Jerry Jones, Curt Schilling, or Herschel Walker. You’ll find journalists putting them on the spot or trying to make them atone for things that have happened throughout their lives.
For some reason (I think you know the reason), none of them got the same benefit of the doubt that LeBron does. They certainly never had The New York Times making excuses for them.
Fair enough. Things should be reported the way they happened. If a journalist is doing their due diligence, they should provide a thorough portrait of the person; warts and all.
This is why it’s disheartening to see more and more legacy media outlets turning into PR firms. Instead of looking at one of the biggest athletes of this century from every angle, The Times gave his tires more than you’d have to give to a cheap Huffy.
Legacy Media Is Failing Us And Getting Lazy About It
They defended him on China. They defended his uninformed take on policing. Yet there was no mention of the bizarre incident in which his home was allegedly defaced by racist graffiti. They addressed it at the time.
Why go mum on what would’ve been one of the greatest tribulations in James’ career? Maybe that was because investigators have yet to find a shred of evidence to support it.
They also went quiet on James’ staunch defense of Kyrie Irving, as well as perhaps his most egregious affront to modern society: Space Jam 2.
Frankly, that one is unforgivable.
LeBron James is a human being who can have opinions and make decisions for himself. That’s not the problem. The problem is a growing trend of once-esteemed media outlets trying to further their agendas by covering up and defending blemishes on someone’s record.
If there’s a silver lining to this, it’s that more and more people are aware that it’s happening.
It doesn’t hurt that these outlets are getting lazier about it either.
Follow on Twitter: @Matt_Reigle
4 CommentsLeave a Reply
Does anyone really care about him having the all time scoring.
Not a fan of LeBron’s woke repitoire at all. However to me he is the greatest all around Basketball Player of all time. Number 1 in pts, and top 5 in Assists with a chance to be number 2 or 3 in Assists. With no drastic statistical slow down yet. His non basketball viewpoint aside he is a Damn Good Basketball Player. Kudos for his basketball ability. His off the court nonsense is his business!
I believe in a survey LeFraud was voted the most hated athlete in America. Far fewer people care or pay any attention to James than the NYT would want you to think. Also, nobody other than leftists takes the NYT seriously.
PED Cheat. Has been since Miami.