Following the Los Angeles Lakers’ comfortable win over the Portland Trail Blazers on Wednesday, LeBron James finished his postgame remarks by wondering why he was asked about the controversy surrounding Kyrie Irving’s antisemitic posts but had not received questions about a resurfaced photo from 1957 showing Dallas Cowboys owner Jerry Jones amid a group of students blocking Black kids from entering North Little Rock High School in 1957.
“I was wondering why I haven’t gotten a question from you guys about the Jerry Jones photo,” LeBron James — a former Cowboys fan who claimed he’s done with them because of how Jones handled Colin Kaepernick’s kneeling and the fallout from it — rhetorically pondered. “But when the Kyrie thing was going on, you guys were quick to ask those questions about that.”
(Brad Turner of the Los Angeles Times, who is Black, tried to interject.)
“Hold on, I don’t want you guys to say nothing. When I watched Kyrie talk and he says, ‘I know who I am, but I want to keep the same energy when we’re talking about my people and the things that we have been through,’ that Jerry Jones photo is one of those moments that our people, Black people, have been through in America.
“I feel like as a Black man and a Black athlete and someone with power and a platform, when we do something wrong or something that people don’t agree with, it’s on every single tabloid, every single news coverage, and it’s on the bottom ticker. I’m asked about it every single day. It seems like to me that the whole Jerry Jones situation and photo — and I know it was years and years ago and we all make mistakes, I get it — but it seemed like it’s been buried under, it happened, we just move on. I was disappointed I haven’t received that question from you guys.”
LeBron James concluded his postgame press conference by rhetorically wondering why the media hasn’t asked him about the Jerry Jones 1957 Little Rock photo, after he was asked about the Kyrie Irving situation. LeBron said he was “disappointed” that he hasn’t been asked about Jones pic.twitter.com/IvdJzZa5Fd
— Michael Corvo (@michaelcorvoNBA) December 1, 2022
On Sept. 9, 1957, dozens of White kids stood outside the entrance of North Little Rock High in a temporarily successful attempt to block the integration of the school. The image of Jones circulated as part of a Washington Post investigation into Jones’ tendency to hire White coaches since he has run the Cowboys.
“I didn’t know at the time the monumental event really that was going on,” Jones said last week when asked about the photo. “I’m sure glad that we’re a long way from that. I am. That would remind me (to) just continue to do everything we can to not have those kinds of things happen.”
On Nov. 5, amid Irving’s suspension for posting a link to an antisemitic film, LeBron — who played with Kyrie for three seasons and won a title with him in 2016 — decried hate speech but said Kyrie is “great” and he “love(s) the kid.” (For the record, as somebody who covers the Lakers on a daily basis, this was the only instance LeBron was asked about Kyrie’s offensive post.)
“Me personally, I don’t condone any hate to any kind,” LeBron James stated. “To any race. To Jewish communities, to Black communities, to Asian communities. You guys know where I stand. And that’s part of the reason why I didn’t air The Shop episode (with Ye), why we kicked that out of our archives. Because it was hate conversation going on there. And I don’t represent that. There’s no place in this world for it. Nobody can benefit from that, and I believe what Kyrie did caused some harm to a lot of people. And he has since … he apologized. Because he caused some harm and I think it’s unfortunate. But I don’t stand on the position to harm people when it comes to your voice or your platform or anything. So, it doesn’t matter what color your skin is, how tall you are, what position you’re in. If you are promoting or soliciting or saying harmful things to any community that harms people, then I don’t respect it. I don’t condone it.”
"I don't condone any hate. To any kind, any race…What Kyrie did caused some harm to a lot of people…I don't respect it."
— Michael Corvo (@michaelcorvoNBA) November 5, 2022
A week later, LeBron tweeted support for Irving and criticized the nature of the suspension levied by the Brooklyn Nets:
LeBron James on Kyrie Irving:
"I told you guys that I don’t believe in sharing hurtful information. And I’ll continue to be that way but Kyrie apologized and he should be able to play. That’s what I think. It’s that simple… He’s not the person that’s being portrayed of him." pic.twitter.com/2wVoLxqWq6
— ClutchPoints (@ClutchPointsApp) November 10, 2022
Kyrie has since returned to action after meeting the Nets’ requirements. He has been repeatedly linked to the Lakers in trade and free-agency rumors since last June, and it’s well-known that LeBron James would like the Lakers to acquire another star.