Looks like King LeBron James wants to add some luster to that crown he’s been wearing since leading the Cleveland Cavaliers to the NBA title in June. Admittedly, when James fulfilled the promise he made to Cleveland fans upon his return home it was reason for shouting in the streets of Cleveland. Even doubters had to give the man respect.
But what separates great athletes from true greatness is their willingness to use their status to advance the cause of justice and stand up for what’s right. And to call out what isn’t. Think Muhammad Ali. Think Kareem Abdul-Jabbar. Think Tommie Smith and John Carlos giving the black power salute at the 1968 Olympics.
News comes out today that James is refusing to stay at any Trump hotel while on the road with his team, regardless of whatever contractual arrangements may or may not have been made. Since the story is still pretty new there will likely be more clarifications, additions, etc to come. But for now, this is a good thing.
From Black America Web:
“A group of Cleveland Cavaliers players, including LeBron James, have been excused from staying at the team’s scheduled accommodations, the Trump SoHo hotel in lower Manhattan, when the defending champs roll into New York City today to play the Knicks, multiple team sources told ESPN.com.”
No, it’s not quite on the same level as refusing to fight in the Vietnam War, as a young Ali did in his prime, risking his entire career and inviting the scorn of a nation. But not all protests have to be monumental and/or historical to be valid and worthy of praise. It’s no secret that professional athletes are under a considerable amount of pressure to go along to get along and keep their politics under the radar. Not having any politics is even better. Just shoot the damned ball and shut the hell up. After all, sports is supposed to be about entertainment, and sports entertainment craves ratings.
Angry black men aren’t exactly good for ratings, which is why it usually takes someone of James’ stature to stand up and refuse to be fed into the machine. To resist. We can rest assured that James will not be staying in a homeless shelter, and he probably won’t be forfeiting all his future earnings to the cause. Hardcore critics and skeptics are likely already writing up all the reasons why his refusal to be in a Trump hotel just isn’t enough or worthy of attention. But high profile resistance matters, especially if it is sustained. And if it gains traction with others. Right not it’s LeBron and some other members of his team that are refusing, but other Cavaliers are declining to buck the system. There’s still time for them to do the right thing.
Meanwhile, well done, LeBron.