Friday, October 1, 2010

James was accurate in race assessment

CNN's Soledad O'Brien recently asked Miami's LeBron James if he believed race played a role in how his decision to join the Heat has been received.

Said James, "I think so at times. It's always, you know, a race factor."

That response has attracted a lot of attention. Attention, in its own right, that reveals James may have been correct.

I think, what James attempted to convey is as an African-American, he sees race playing a role in the perceptions of a great many scenarios. That includes how the performance of the country's first African-American President, Barack Obama, is perceived.

It includes how the mere mention of race in almost any scenario can be viewed as stepping out of bounds. It includes how my opinions are viewed.

Unquestionably, it's dangerous to attempt to assess how an group feels about a topic.

However, I like danger, at times. I'd guess a large portion of African-American agree with James' assessment of the negative reaction to his decision. Personally, there were many things about James' delivery of his decision that I didn't like.

However, deciding to play in Miami never was a problem for me.

Remember the question was did race play a role. There was no percentage attached to how large or small a role that may have been.

It could have been zero percent, one percent or 65 percent. No one knows. Actually, the question was a set-up because there is no true method of measuring the role race may have played.

The speculation here is many African-Americans believe race relations and understanding will affect the emotions in the minds of some white Americans in virtually every scenario.

Let's be real. Even with an African-American President, race relations has not exactly been a U.S. strong point. Many strides have been made over the years, but there is much ground to be covered.

One posture I can never assume to totally know is how it feels to be a white American. That concept also goes in reverse. White Americans also generally are incapable of seeing and living life as an African-American.

That's why conversational exchanges between all races are so important to our nation's growth.

So I'm glad James spoke his mind when asked the question. I wish he'd been capable of expressing his feelings more precisely. I wish he'd have been given more of an opportunity to express those feelings.

Consider though, James will turn just 26 December 3oth. Is he fully equipped to answer such a deep question? I doubt it. I'm 55 and I doubt I'm fully capable of accurately assessing such a broad question.

It's not as if the question was put to Dr. Cornel West. It wasn't asked of Dr. Harry Edwards or USC professor Dr. Todd Boyd, who is considered to be an expert on popular culture.

However, when you accept the name, 'The Chosen One,' and proclaim your desire to become a billionaire, responsibilities can become quite encompassing.


  1. I don't understand how race was not an issue for Lebron in Cleveland when he was glorified but now it is in Miami? Doesn't make much sense? I have heard some use race when they compare how more unpopular Lebron was in a recent poll of "unpopular sport's figures" compared to Big Ben . It is pointed out that what Lebron did was nothing like what Big Ben was accused of doing and they are correct. I would point out that Kobe Bryant was accused of pretty much the same offense as Big Ben and Kobe has pretty much gone unscathed by it? Kobe did not even get suspended after he paid his way out of it.

    If Lebron wants to compare himself with someone I think the Melo case in Denver would be more accurate. Anthony is being pretty up front about what his intentions are and giving them time to workout the best deal they can get. Had James did that with the Cavs I think it would have been a smoother transition for all parties. The Cavs got basically nothing for James in the "sign and trade" deal they made.

  2. I really get tired of those media questions that have no real answer other than opinion, and then refuse to make a follow up question to define/support/explain them.... Just to sensationalize the whole topic/issue....

    You pegged it right, Marty, and I agree with your points.

    The way LeBron handled his business this summer was appalling and lacked a lot of class, and when he looks back on it some day, he is going feel that, but hey, he is young, he is allowed to make mistakes just like all of us, and hopefully he will learn from it.

    It's not like he did anything illegal, like Michael Vick, so, whatever, we all have to get over it. It will be interesting to see where it all goes from here, and if they can win in Miami and all that...

  3. I think race comes into play in how people view most NBA players actually, maybe most athletes.

    I think we fans expect players to play hard and little else while we expect management to play chess and make the "smart" moves.

  4. I was so worried when I read the headline but as always you are correct.

  5. Kings rulal, it's not fair to compare LeBron and 'Melo. LeBron played out his contract and left. In my opinion, no biggie. He played out his contract. Leaving was within his right. Now, how he left, I have a problem. Personally, I don't think he should have told the Cavs ahead before his announcement. Now, I don't know when he actually made his decision. I'd say the Cavs deserved to know as soon as possible. Ultimately, when he told the Cavs, they still had opportunities to do what they did. Personally, I'd rather he'd have stayed in Cleveland and tried to win there. However, I've been to Cleveland and Miami many times. If I had to live somewhere, it's a no-brainer. I'm taking my talents to Biscayne Bay. LOL.

    I think the race issue, the questioning and the response was a bit ridiculous. LeBron is a great player, we'll soon see.

  6. Thanks Ricardo for the comment. I'm on the record as saying the Heat will not win the NBA title this year. I don't think they'll get out of the East. They'll be good, but they won't set any records this season. I'm guessing they'll win around 60, though. LeBron is a bad boy, but I still think his inability to shoot well will prevent him from being The Man. If that perimeter shooting ever improves, watch out. Even then, he seems a little sensitive to me. Thanks again.

  7. Peek, I feel ya. Race is an inescapable factor in much of life. Not all, but much. You may be right, but it's such an unprovable concept.

    Anonymous, thanks, but I only wish I was always right, especially on Friday when the lottery comes up.