by Ryan Dwyer
As one of the most outspoken athletes in the world, LeBron James often feels the pressure to speak out on issues of social justice. However, at what point does it become excessive and controversial, if at all?
On April 21st, 2021, Lebron James Posted a tweet with a picture of a police officer which was captioned “YOU’RE NEXT⌛” followed by the hashtag “#ACCOUNTABILITY.” The officer who was featured in this tweet was an officer by the name of Nicholas Riadon, a Columbus, Ohio police officer who was involved in the deadly shooting of Ma’Khia Bryant, a 16 year old African American girl. Bryant called police after she was attacked by a group of girls in her neighborhood.
Initially the vast majority of people were outraged and saw this as yet another racially motivated killing. However, footage soon came out showing that once the officer had arrived on the scene, the incident had fizzled out and no one was being harmed, until video surfaced on Nicholas Riadon’s body cam that showed Ma’Khia out of nowhere lunging at two of the girls with a knife, leading to her eventual fatal shooting.
As sad as the situation is, it was widely accepted that this proved Nicholas Riadon innocent of any racial motivations as he was simply saving a girl from being stabbed or possibly killed by Ma’Khia Bryant. LeBron’s tweet had come out after this information was already made public though, so it faced immediate backlash as many believed he had neglected to do any sort of research on the situation, which is something he has prided himself on doing in the past. He deleted his tweet less than a day later after a massive uproar. In the following days, he put out several tweets in which he both directly and indirectly addressed the situation.
One day after the initial tweet, he put out a new one, in which he stated, “ANGER does any of us any good and that includes myself! Gathering all the facts and educating does though! My anger still is here for what happened that lil girl. My sympathy for her family and may justice prevail!”
This tweet gave sort of an admittance to the lack of research used just the day prior, but still showed his anger for the situation. Later that day, he addressed the fact that he had deleted the prior controversial tweet by putting out one last tweet.
“I’m so damn tired of seeing Black people killed by police. I took the tweet down because it’s being used to create more hate -This isn’t about one officer. It’s about the entire system and they always use our words to create more racism. I am so desperate for more ACCOUNTABILITY,” LeBron said, shedding some light on his reasoning behind deleting the tweet.
It seems as though it was more about preventing a false narrative and preventing the conversation from being taken away from the problem at hand. Also, it was about ending the backlash and controversy. Regardless of the statements put out by LeBron and the removal of the tweet, he still faced significant hate and criticism. This continual outpour of anger and hatred was made even more prevalent when the news broke that an Ohio bar owner had been quoted as saying that NBA games won’t be shown at his establishment until LeBron is expelled from the league.
Lebron responded to this news by retweeting a MSN article about the situation, saying “Aww Damn! I was headed there to watch our game tonight and have a drink! Welp.”
Even former president of the United States, Donald Trump, released a statement about LeBron saying “LeBron James should focus on basketball rather than presiding over the destruction of the NBA”… “He may be a great basketball player, but he is doing nothing to bring our Country together.”
Statements like that only further push a narrative that LeBron spoke when he shouldn’t have, and conservative Americans are not very happy about it.
Nonetheless, LeBron is a massive figure in both sports, activism and pop culture. He is just simply one of the most well known people in the world, and that title holds a lot of weight. He is one of the biggest voices in the world of activism and awareness, so no matter how much hate he receives he will always stick by what he believes is right.
On top of that, he is one of the best basketball players the world has ever seen, and there is no doubt that regardless of the backlash he faces he will always be just as successful and sought after as he’s always been. No matter what happens – what controversy he is surrounded by or what mistakes he makes – LeBron James will always show up for his team and the community to dominate both on and off the court as the voice for so many voiceless people.