However you feel about him on the court, LeBron James has become a hero off of it

LeBron James


I’ll admit it. I was a hater.

I was one of those guys who wanted to see LeBron James fail—ever since he showed up on the cover of Sports Illustrated as a high schooler, and hyperbolic analysts started breathlessly proclaiming that he’d be better than MJ, and that the NBA was saved.

To be honest, that’s always been my problem with LeBron.

I’ve hated the Jordan debate since before shows like First Take made it mind-numbing and meaningless, like any political issue that gets bastardized by think-tank spin, confirmation-biased Twitter takes and 24/7 CNN coverage.

I’ve been rooting against LeBron for 14 years. On the court.

But off the court?

The NBA’s best player has turned into one of our culture’s biggest advocates.

He’s followed in the footsteps of guys like Jim Brown, Roberto Clemente, Muhammad Ali and Kareem Abdul-Jabaar, speaking out on social justice issues and using his considerable platform to push for equality and inclusion.

It would have been easy for LeBron to keep his mouth shut, so as to not interfere with the automatic conveyor belt of dollars rolling his way.

He could have been quiet, and adopted the Michael Jordan philosophy that “Republicans buy sneakers, too.” (Though there’s debate over whether or not MJ actually said that.)

Instead, he’s used his popularity to prop up others, and he’s put his money where his cause is–time and time again.

And despite what guys like Seth Greenberg or your high school guidance counselor might insinuate, the kid with no college degree has navigated his way through this complicated world just fine. He’s made incredibly shrewd investments, started his own media company, and guided his “posse” to just as much success off the court as he’s had on it.

He’s as woke as Kyrie Irving claims to be.

It was awesome to see LeBron absolutely torch Donald Trump on Twitter on Saturday, after the President childishly and absurdly “un-invited” Steph Curry and the Warriors to the White House.

James’ tweet was, as Slate pointed out, far more popular than anything the Oompa Loompa-in-Chief has ever tweeted.

And it was far more savvy than what peers like Kevin Durant are putting out there.

He’s truly the King when it comes to the NBA’s social conscience.

Don’t get me wrong, I still hate the Cavs—and I’ll never root for LeBron to win another NBA title. (Still gotta protect the G.O.A.T.’s legacy).

But the minute he retires, I’ll find him instantly more likable.

Unlike our President, the King has at least earned my respect.


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