LeBron James

The Cleveland Cavaliers' LeBron James goes in for a slam against the Atlanta Hawks in the final minutes of Game 1 in the Eastern Conference finals. (Curtis Compton/Atlanta Journal-Constitution/TNS)

In light of President Trump's recent Twitter comments about NBA star LeBron James, now is a good time to revisit what may be the best explanation of James' place in American society.

"LeBron James Was Never Going to Shut Up and Dribble," written a few months ago by author Howard Bryant, isn't about basketball. It's about America 2018 and arguably the most influential African-American in the United States today.

A sample:

"LeBron James is the first black athlete since Ali to be both the best, most recognizable player in American professional sports and one who makes unequivocal support for black America inseparable from his public persona. Unlike Colin Kaepernick, who wasn’t a good enough player to protect himself from severe retribution by fans, media, and ultimately his league, James’ once-in-a-generation ability shields him, allows him to be himself. James does not hide from his liberal politics, publicly supporting Barack Obama and Hillary Clinton. He loudly rejects Trump and his policies, and unlike (Michael) Jordan, who kept himself at a corporate remove from social issues, James wrote a check and showed his face, unafraid of offending the white mainstream. He spoke up for Trayvon Martin after the teen’s killing in 2012, wore an “I Can’t Breathe” T-shirt following Eric Garner‘s killing by police in 2014, and has done what Jordan would not: give cover to the athletes without his talent and bank account to be more vocal politically. His leadership sent the message: Being a politically active black athlete should no longer be considered radical, but commonplace."

-- Phillip Tutor

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