LeBron James took reporters to task on Wednesday for their failure to ask him about a controversial photo featuring Dallas Cowboys owner Jerry Jones.
The Washington Post recently unearthed a photo from 1957 in which a teenaged Jones is in the crowd while a mob of white boys blocks six Black students from entering Arkansas’ North Little Rock High. The photo was taken in a period when schools had started to desegregate in the United States. Jones has said he was an observer during the incident and had been unaware of what was going on.
“I got one question for you guys before you guys leave. I was thinking when I was on my way over here, I was wondering why I haven’t gotten a question from you guys about the Jerry Jones photo,” James said to reporters after his Los Angeles Lakers beat the Portland Trail Blazers. “But when the Kyrie [Irving] thing was going on, you guys were quick to ask us questions about that.”
Irving was suspended by the Brooklyn Nets after tweeting a link to an antisemitic film and refusing to apologize. Irving has since returned after offering an apology. James was asked last month why he believed so few NBA players had commented on Irving’s initial lack of apology. James condemned antisemitism when asked about the situation.
On Wednesday, James appeared to accuse reporters of double standards.
“When I watch 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’ve been through,’ and that Jerry Jones photo is one of those moments that our people, Black people, have been through in America,” said James. “And I feel like as a Black man, as a Black athlete, as 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, it’s on the bottom ticker. It’s asked about every single day.
“But it seems like to me that the whole Jerry Jones situation, photo – and I know it was years and years ago and we all make mistakes, I get it – but it seems like it’s just been buried under, like, ‘Oh, it happened. OK, we just move on.’ And I was just kind of disappointed that I haven’t received that question from you guys.”
The Washington Post article in which the photo was unearthed also discussed Jones’ failure to appoint a Black head coach at the Cowboys.
In October, James said he had stopped supporting the Cowboys after Jones had vowed to bench any Cowboy who “disrespect[ed]” the flag during the 2017 national anthem protests. Jones later went back on that promise and knelt with players before a Monday Night Football game.
“I had to sit out on the Cowboys, man,” James said in October. “There’s just a lot of things that were going on when guys were kneeling. Guys were having freedom of speech and wanting to do it in a very peaceful manner. … The organization was like, ‘If you do that around here then you will never play for this franchise again.’ I just didn’t think that was appropriate.”