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Tipsheet

OutKick Shreds NYT's Puff Piece on LeBron James

AP Photo/Rick Bowmer

As the news cycle becomes more fixated on Chinese spy balloons and other unidentified high-altitude objects hovering in and around US airspace, NBA player LeBron James did accomplish something incredible: he broke Kareem Abdul-Jabbar's all-time scoring record. That’s over 38,387 points. What’s annoying is that this might jumpstart the debate about whether LeBron or Michael Jordan is the greatest of all time; Lebron certainly thinks he’s king in that category. 

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Yet, back to the piece about Mr. James in The New York Times, which Outkick dissected. Was it a fluff piece? Yes, but nothing will come close to the Washington Post’s profile on Stacey Abrams, one of the worst propaganda pieces pushed in recent memory. Yet, Outkick does nail two things: first, the article gives off the impression that LeBron can do no wrong, and second, what about China? It’s very light on that subject, but you cannot shy away from that (via OutKick):

In 2019, Houston Rockets executive Daryl Morey tweeted in support of anti-CCP protestors in Hong Kong. Many around the NBA, were quick to distance themselves from Morey’s comments.

“James said he did not know enough to talk about them, but some skeptics accused him of avoiding the subject to protect his financial interests in China,” Ganguli wrote. 

“Skeptics.” 

Apologies on behalf of The New York Times if that word in this context made you roll your eyes so hard they almost popped out of your head. 

LeBron usually goes radio silent on China, however, The Times archives show that LeBron did speak out on the Morey matter. 

The only problem is he defended China, saying that Morey was “misinformed” on the matter. 

[…] 

Even if he wasn’t aware of the situation enough to comment, that hasn’t stopped him from holding court during press conferences on other matters. Y’know, like policing. That said, you don’t need a lot of info on the CCP to say, at the very least that you’re not a fan.

I don’t do business with China and have never been there. Even I’m acutely aware of the mountain of evidence that has emerged over the years to confidently choke out the words “The Chinese government is bad.” 

LeBron is aware of this too, whether he says it or not, and whether The Times wants to jump to his defense or not.

It read like this that mention of that 2019 incident was shoehorned into the middle of the article by design. Almost as if it was done so that The Times could say, “See, we mentioned it! You can’t say we didn’t!” 

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Yet, Outkick noted that James is very quick to comment on other issues, some of which have had mixed receptions from fans and commentators alike:

The New York Times article makes a big to-do about LeBron’s social activism, like how outspoken he has especially been on racial and policing matters. 

However, there’s no mention of any of his controversial takes on the matter. Take for instance the time he tweeted the words “YOU’RE NEXT” with an hourglass emoji and #accountability. That was seen as a threat directed at an officer, and James eventually deleted the tweet. 

Now, if you’re wondering which officer he was talking about, it was the Columbus officer who saved a woman’s life by shooting and killing 16-year-old Ma’Khia Bryant who charged at the woman with a knife. 

At least his opinion on these matters is clearly well-informed. LeBron doesn’t speak out on issues unless he feels he has enough background knowledge on the matter. 

That’s how The New York Times defended his hesitation to speak out against China. They said it stemmed from a lack of knowledge on the subject. Although, that didn’t stop him from criticizing an officer’s use of deadly force, despite limited knowledge of police work.

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As for The NYT’s mentioning of China, it’s only one paragraph: 

In 2019, when a Houston Rockets executive angered the Chinese government by expressing support for Hong Kong, James was criticized for not speaking out against China’s human rights abuses. James said he did not know enough to talk about them, but some skeptics accused him of avoiding the subject to protect his financial interests in China. 

It's quite a takedown of The Times and their blasé attitude toward some of James’ legitimate hypocrisy regarding his penchant for social justice. Is it fair to give the benefit of the doubt to The Times for not including the more nuanced aspects of James’ off-court persona? Some pieces have word limits, but when has that even been the reason for these publications’ egregious bias by omission? James would probably have more fans if he took the Jordan way—but the media, agents, and activists are pushing, eschewing the "shut up and play" mindset, even though that’s what most fans want even in 2023. 

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