Outkick journalist Jason Whitlock, a steadfast critic of the politicization of sports by the woke contingent, claims that National Basketball Association superstar and social justice activist LeBron James and President Donald Trump are comparable in the ways they go about their business. As things stand now, the POTUS has demonstrated a far better track record in generating TV ratings, however.
Many would conclude that that finding similarities between the pro player and the POTUS is a stretch. In a follow-up discussion with Outkick colleague Clay Travis on Fox Sports Radio about a published column where he made that assertion, however, Whitlock seemed to provide a somewhat different spin. “The comparison is really more of an insult to [President] Trump than it is to LeBron. If I’m Trump, I don’t want to be compared to LeBron,” Whitlock asserted.
“LeBron is crude and crass and unsophisticated; all the things he allegedly dislikes about the president are actually things that are true about him, and he’s just run off a significant segment of basketball fans,” he added.
In the latter comment, Whitlock alluded to the fact that TV ratings for the NBA playoffs (held in a Walt Disney World bubble with no fans present) — and subsequently the championship round, featuring, and won by, the league’s marquee team (the Los Angeles Lakers) led by its marquee player (James) — collapsed, with an approximately 60 percent massive decline in viewership year over year.
Whitlock, who has described himself as an apolitical nonvoter, has even hinted in a tweet that he might vote for Trump despite his stated reservations about the president.
Perhaps because of the historically bad ratings, NBA Commissioner Adam Silver has implied that the approved social justice messages on player jerseys and on the court may be one-and-done and won’t return next season.
The contrarian Whitlock has persistently criticized various professional athletes for deriving their motivation from Twitter applause more than anything. While players may have sincerely held beliefs about social issues, the issue is that private-sector workers regardless of industry have no First Amendment free-speech protections, especially when it’s bad for the bottom line.
Moreover, sports stars in our celebrity-obsessed environment enjoy outsized access to express themselves when they’re not on the clock, a sports consultant separately told Outkick. “There are fans that don’t want politics forced down their throats during sports events…Players can find different parts of their platform to use, their own press conferences, Twitter accounts, sponsorship deals. Does it have to be in the three-hour window (during games)?'”
As mentioned above, Whitlock recently penned a provocative Outkick column in which he described Joe-Biden-supporting LeBron James, who the sports journalist insists is damaging his legacy by getting too involved in left-wing politics, as “Black Donald Trump.”
“LeBron fashions himself as a dignified statesman, role model, political activist and champion of racial equality. He is every bit as crude, undignified and inarticulate as our sitting president. James writes and speaks at a third-grade level. The athletic privilege he’s enjoyed since about age 10 has spoiled and pampered him the same way wealth privilege spoiled and pampered President Trump.
“What’s worse is James’ actions and public pronouncements are far more racist and racially divisive than the president’s.”
Whitlock’s harsh criticism including holding James, the league’s premier star, responsible for the NBA’s starkly diminished market share.
“LeBron has diminished the NBA domestically. His descent into politics and full-on embrace of Black Lives Matter have devastated the game. He extinguished the TV-ratings torch he inherited from [Michael] Jordan. The league that had dreams of matching the NFL’s relevancy is now toxic, polarizing and reliant on rigged Twitter algorithms for traction…”
“LeBron is a puppet for a global corporation and Democratic politicians. Nike and the Democratic Party have weaponized racial demonization through Black Lives Matter to achieve their political goals….Black Trump, Nike and white liberals have zero interest in ‘ending racism.’ They use racial division to control the public, the media and politicians.”
In the same essay, the former ESPN and Fox Sports personality and print journalist took exception to an apparent LeBron social media post about that feisty fly landing on Mike Pence’s head during the VP debate.
“The social media-addicted superstar implied that Pence is a piece of s**t via Instagram…This is textbook Trump behavior. Remember two years ago when Trump called Haiti a ‘s**thole’ country, and the mainstream media said his comment was proof of bigotry? Is LeBron’s IG post proof of bigotry? It’s certainly proof of immaturity and hypocrisy.”
LeBron 😂 pic.twitter.com/maWabbwntm
— NBA Central (@TheNBACentral) October 8, 2020
Along with various other NBA luminaries such as Gregg Popovich and Steve Kerr, LeBron James has trashed President Trump, and condemned America for its shortcomings. They have remained silent, however, when it comes to rampant human rights violations by the CCP as well as its crackdown on the pro-democracy movement in Hong Kong.
The NBA considers China its primary ATM machine and above all else, it seemingly wants to protect that lucrative relationship, which is firmly controlled by the CCP. Sneaker giant Nike, which stands accused of manufacturing its shoes in overseas sweatshops, and pays players millions in endorsement deals, is also part of this equation.
Similarly, on Megyn Kelly’s new podcast, Dallas Mavericks owner (and Shark Tank star) Mark Cuban, another Biden supporter, refused to specifically condemn human rights abuses by China because it’s “a customer.”
China state broadcaster CCTV even took a victory lap when Houston Rockets GM Daryl Morey recently stepped down from his job. As you may remember, Morey ignited a firestorm between the CCP and the CCP-apologists in the league with a simple tweet supporting freedom for Hong Kong.
On a related noted, ESPN, which has closely aligned itself with the NBA (and the NFL) and had also devoted much of its programming to the SJW theme, continues to bleed viewers for several reasons. There are rumors that another round of layoffs at the Bristol, Connecticut-based network is imminent as a result. Speculation has also emerged that parent-company Disney wants to sell off the channel. To borrow a catchphrase from television’s pre-cord-cutting heyday, stay tuned for further developments.