A Fox Sports analyst had a strong response to LeBron James’ recent tweet about a black man gunned down by two white men while jogging in Georgia, saying he was “using this man’s tragedy to build a brand.”
Ahmaud Arbery was killed while jogging in a southeastern Georgia town after two older, armed white men — a father and son — say they attempted to put him under citizen’s arrest. The incident happened in February but caused a stir this week when video of the shooting leaked out and spread nationally.
Lakers star LeBron James, upset at another incident of a killing of a young, unarmed black man, posted on Twitter about it, starting by saying, “We’re literally hunted EVERYDAY/EVERYTIME we step foot outside the comfort of our homes!”
Fox Sports analyst Jason Whitlock, who is also black, objected. After James’ message hit Twitter, Whitlock responded, suggesting James had ulterior motives for his anguish over Arbery’s killing.
“This isn’t helpful,” Whitlock said in his response to James. “It’s twitter trolling. It’s using this man’s tragedy to build a brand as more outspoken than Michael Jordan. There are all kinds of ways to draw attention to this tragedy. Suggesting that we are hunted everyday/every time is just s**t-stirring.”
LeBron James Has Spoken on Social Issues Before
Here’s the full context of James’ tweet:
“We’re literally hunted EVERYDAY/EVERYTIME we step foot outside the comfort of our homes! Can’t even go for a damn jog man! Like WTF man are you kidding me?!?!?!?!?!? No man fr ARE YOU KIDDING ME!!!!! I’m sorry Ahmaud(Rest In Paradise) and my prayers and blessings sent to the….. heavens above to your family!! #StayWoke #ProfiledCauseWeAreSimplyBlack”
James has frequently spoken out about similar issues in the past. He and many NBA players brought attention to the killing of unarmed teenager Trayvon Martin in Florida, and in 2012, he and teammate Dwyane Wade organized a photo featuring the entire Heat team wearing the kind of hoodie Martin was wearing when he was killed by a white Florida civilian, George Zimmerman.
He also spoke frequently about the killings of Eric Garner in New York and Michael Brown in Missouri in 2014.
“I think that news itself, the issue is much bigger than that,” James said at the time, according to ESPN. “It’s not just one instance. It’s not just Mike Brown or Trayvon Martin or anything that’s going on in our society. I think it’s much bigger than that. Like I said last night, violence is not the answer and retaliation is not the solution. My prayers and best wishes goes out to the families of anyone that loses a loved one, especially a kid today.”
NBA Vets Had a Strong Responses to Whitlock
In recent days, James has drawn comparisons to fellow all-time great Michael Jordan. The ESPN documentary The Last Dance has captivated the basketball world, and in Sunday’s episode, Jordan brushed off his famous comment about not supporting a Democratic candidate in North Carolina because “Republicans buy shoes, too,” as a joke.
ESPN’s Jay Williams later said James’ willingness to speak on social issues puts him in the mold of Muhammad Ali, Jim Brown, Bill Russell and Kareem Abdul-Jabbar — and that should be counted in his favor when considering which player is the greatest of all time.
James himself has not discussed Jordan in that context. But according to Whitlock, that contrast drove James’ tweet.
Some former NBA players had strong opinions on that, starting with Matt Barnes.
Former NBA big man Etan Thomas — a teammate of Jordan’s during his comeback with the Wizards — added this: