Lebron James has once again shown that he is more courageous than Michael Jordan who once famously said “Republicans buy sneakers” when asked why he didn’t support Harvey Gantt’s Senate bid over arch-conservative Jesse Helms. James was showing his solidarity with the people who were upset Eric Garner was killed by a chokehold by a New York City police officer earlier this year.
James isn’t necessarily the first person you think of when it comes to skilled media manipulator (many can’t forget his horrific media announcement when he left the Cleveland Cavaliers for Miami a few years back). But James has show in recent years that he’s not afraid to take a stand; more important, he’s not afraid to take stands that are unpopular with some. James has also stood up for Trayvon Martin as well as players rights issues.
Michael Jordan was extremely focused on 2 things: 1. Playing basketball. and 2. Generating as many lucrative endorsements as possible. Nothing distracted him from either goal. James is no slouch in those departments either. However, he is adding a 3rd focus: using his fame to put a spotlight on issues he cares about, regardless of whether it puts any money in his pocket.
Hollywood stars like Angelina Jolie and George Clooney (Bono too) have long done this sort of thing. However, Hollywood stars can have much longer careers than professional athletes.
Does this political activism make sense for James? From a financial standpoint, I don’t know. But it begs the question, does it really matter if the then-95 year old Lebron James dies with a net worth of $2 billion versus $1.7 billion (a possibility of less $ because of lost contracts from political activism)?
If you are James, why would you care?
There is also the very real possibility that James builds for himself a reputation of true character; one who believes in making the world a better place and letting the chips fall where they may. And that, at least to some people, is priceless. I, for one, hope that James ignores advisers who tell him to stay quiet and play it safe. I hope we see a lot more of James on the front of news pages and not just the sports pages.