The LeBron James Approach

As I witness the national anthem protests unfold, I wonder if the NFL players have ever heard the old saying, “Don’t bite the hand that feeds you.” Did you know that despite Black men representing only 6 percent of the United States’ population, blacks make up 70 percent of the NFL rosters? While most NFL players are black, the NFL fan base is 83 percent white. Some NFL players are doing more harm than good by engaging in the “Black Lives Matter” style of protest.

“Many Americans Side With President Trump on NFL Anthem Protests” – NPR – October 4, 2017

Professional sport is one of the few avenues where White America actively invests their money into making millionaires out of Black men. There is no way that athletes like LeBron James and Colin Kaepernick could have earned millions of dollars playing sports without White people’s support. As the numbers of NFL players who raise awareness to police brutality grow, have you noticed that the NFL TV ratings and number of sponsors has decreased?

When Black athletes kneel during the national anthem, it seems like they want White America to pay to both watch them play and hear a lecture about how White people currently and historically oppress Black people.  Unfortunately for the NFL, most White NFL fans simply want to watch a football game and not get lectured – especially not from a group of millionaires playing football for a living.

I believe that black athletes are speaking out mostly because they feel a sense of responsibility to help avoid another unarmed black man getting shot by a White cop. A growing number of NFL players believe that issues like police brutality are getting ignored by White America. So, the players participating in the national anthem protest feel that they must remind America of the injustice that exists within the Black community every chance they get. They might say in their minds, what better time to make people aware of the reality that black lives really do matter, than during a football game while millions of people watch?

“Personal Foul: Videos Show NFL Players Yelling ‘F**k You’ at Fans” – Breitbart Sports – October 5, 2017

As black athletes speak out on various social problems, I believe that there is a growing sentiment among White America that black athletes no longer respect and appreciate White sports fans after all the police brutality videos surfaced over the Internet. When there is a perceived lack of respect in a relationship (Black athletes and White fans), the relationship will break down.

LeBron James has not only been the “king” over the basketball court but has been the “king” as far as professional athletes giving back to his community and helping inner city youth.

The perceived lack of respect White America currently feels Black athletes have for them goes beyond NFL players participating in the national anthem protest. Whether Stephen Curry sees the consequences of his choices; it was a questionable decision on his part to turn down the opportunity to visit the White House. Rejecting the White House invitation and suggesting that President Trump is a White Supremacist only adds to the impression that Black athletes don’t respect the very people who make them millions of dollars.

Many people applauded LeBron James when he tweeted: “U bum @StephenCurry30 already said he ain’t going! So, therefore, am not, no invite. Going to White House was a great honor until you showed up!”  I wonder if LeBron James understands that there are millions of people who were offended by his comments; people who will never support him again. In the same way, the Tea Party movement offended many of President Obama’s supporters; some black athletes are presently offending the over 60 million people who voted for Donald Trump.

 “Cavaliers’ owner, Gilbert got ‘vile… racist’ messages after LeBron Tweeted Trump was a ‘bum’ ” – NBC Sports – September 30, 2017

I hate the fact that Michael Jordan almost never used his name and money to get involved in causes that would have made a positive impact. For most of Michael Jordan’s career as a basketball player and as an entrepreneur, he has taken the opposite approach to dealing with social justice issues than an outspoken athlete like Colin Kaepernick. Jordan understands that speaking out on social justice issues is not good for business. So, he has chosen to keep his mouth closed and focus on building his brand.

Which of these two Black athletes does America love the most: Is it Michael Jordan who has been mostly silent on social justice issues, or Colin Kaepernick who has been outspoken? Can I be honest with you? Most White Americans probably love Black athletes like Michael Jordan, but want guys like Colin Kaepernick to be quiet. Meanwhile, Black people love athletes like Colin Kaepernick, but beginning to despise silent athletes like Michael Jordan.

In the past, most Black athletes took the “Michael Jordan approach” in handling social justice issues. For example, I don’t remember too many athletes saying a word when Rodney King took a beating from White cops in 1991. Over the years, many professional athletes who wanted to make a difference have quietly done community service and left social justice issues to the community activists. This is what LeBron James has done, as he has helped hundreds of kids go to college.  So why are we seeing a growing number of Black athletes speaking out on social justice issues? If you answer that Black Lives Matter (BLM) movement is currently influencing many of these athletes, give yourself a couple of points.

“LeBron’s foundation to spend $41M to send kids to college” – -August 13, 2015

The problems within the black community have not changed much over the years, but the methods of dealing with the problems are changing. The Black Lives Matter movement is currently teaching its followers that it is critical to make as much noise as possible and expect more from White America. They have successfully fooled many in the black community into believing that we need another Civil Rights Movement. More civil rights probably wouldn’t fix most of the problems that plague people of color. I think the world would be a better place if more athletes and fans took the traditional “Lebron James approach” by helping to invest in young people’s lives.

The Black Lives Matter approach to Black liberation that is becoming popular is one reason Blacks are currently under-addressing issues that are destroying the black community like black-on-black crime, heart diseases, and diabetes. Why are we witnessing very few people saying anything about these and other mounting problems in the Black community? Holding Blacks responsible for their actions has become an unpopular message. It is almost impossible to build a movement within the Black community the size of Black Lives Matter, if you are not focusing on police brutality.

I have witnessed Colin Kaepernick evolve away from the BLM approach. When Mr. Kaepernick first started kneeling during the national anthem, he had not done much for the Black community. I don’t think Kaepernick was even registered to vote when he started his national anthem protest. Over time, Kaepernick has learned to do more to help the Black community and say less. The community service that Kaepernick engaged in after the 2016 NFL season doesn’t seem like the lesson most Black athletes and fans have learned from Kaepernick’s life. It has been the kneeling and speaking out against racism that other players and people feed up with police brutality are mostly imitating across this country.

“Huge NJ Car Dealer Pulls Ads Over NFL Protests” – Townhall – October 4, 2017

After years of great work in the community, it saddens me to see black athletes like Stephen Curry and LeBron James get sucked into the BLM style of protest. It is so important that Black athletes understand that you will never gain people’s respect by being disrespectful. This is another lesson that the Black Lives Matter approach should have taught us. This approach teaches people about the importance of exercising their rights, but not always in a responsible way. For example, as LeSean McCoy lay on the field warming up before one game as the national anthem played, he was exercising his first amendment rights, but burning bridges at the same time.

Black folks can argue that people like LeSean McCoy and Marshawn Lynch’s forms of protest shouldn’t offend White people. But these and other athletes’ behavior during the national anthem shows an unwillingness to compromise with the NFL owners who want the players to change the world on their own time. People who are willing to compromise with the “other side” are often viewed as sellouts. There are some who would rather see someone like LeBron James speak out against President Trump than spend his time helping to send young people to college. Let’s be real; young people with no quality education are more likely to become victims of police brutality.

“Cowboys players do plenty of good work with charity causes and through their foundations” – Blogging The Boys – September 27, 2017

The BLM approach also causes people to have unrealistic expectations of what White America should do for the Black community. For example, here is what Richard Sherman (Seattle Seahawks cornerback) stated in a press conference about the players’ protest in the NFL: ‘Stop the Racism, Bigotry, and Inequality, and We’ll Stop Protesting.’ Is this a realistic demand? Of course not. The BLM standoffish approach doesn’t teach people the importance of tolerating or forgiving other people’s mistakes. This method of achieving equality often uses people’s faults to justify exercising inner anger. People who buy into the BLM’s approach often feel a sense of entitlement to inflict verbal and other forms of abuse on others that they should be forgiving. The BLM approach will never lead to racial reconciliation or inner healing.

Before I close, I’d like to give a pop quiz. There are almost 8,000 black people a year who die because of this problem. Meanwhile, this other issue causes about 300 blacks deaths each year. Which of these two issues would you guess is the greater threat to the Black community? The one that is killing 8,000 black people or the one that is killing about 300? You probably guess by now that I’m talking about black-on-black crime vs. police shootings.

The folks who believe in the BLM approach to fighting for social change will tell you that black-on-black crime is a byproduct of poor policing. The people who believe in the Michael Jordon approach won’t say or do anything as they watch thousands of Black men kill each other each year. Those who subscribe to the traditional LeBron James approach will invest their time into helping young people get out of poverty so they don’t feel like they must commit a crime. You tell me which of these three approaches is the best for the black community.

“When white sports fans turn on black athletes” – The Guardian – October 5, 2017

Yes, I understand there are different approaches to bring about social change. Some people will argue without the Malcolm X’s “By Any Means Necessary Approach,” that the Martin Luther King Jr.’s “Non-violence Approach” would never have worked to help end problems like segregation. If we want to see a better world, let’s teach and model the traditional LeBron James approach and pray Black athletes like James and Curry continue doing the great community service work that they are doing.