LeBron to Silver: “Why would this fall on the players to address?”

LeBron to Silver: “Why would this fall on the players to address?”

LeBron has been under a lot of criticism for the way he responded to the Morey – China issue. His statement and the following tweets made most of us conclude LeBron opted for money over principles. The main point LeBron tried to make was that he was commenting on the lack of sensibility from Morey’s side on the consequences his tweet would have on the entire NBA, and not the content of the tweet himself. 

The issue at hand for LeBron is that through his basketball evolution, we’ve observed his political evolution as well. LeBron spoke on a lot of social issues and led the player empowerment movement on and off the court. He crossed the Rubikon and is now learning once you do so, there is no turning back. Alea iacta est. Just as we predicted, the internet will call you out on your hypocrisy and find every example of it.

LeBron’s production company, Springhill Entertainment, helped produce and write the story for 2K20 – these are his own words. “Those people, those kids, they exist on every corner of the globe, and they’re all deserving of a chance … I believe no one person is capable of turning the tide, but we all have an obligation” That’s the reality of being more than an athlete; you get judged on a different level. This is the downside of player empowerment that players are struggling to accept. It happened again when Adam Silver met with players in Shanghai. (via ESPN, Dave McMenamin):

“His question was related to Morey — and the commissioner’s handling of the Rockets’ GM. James, to paraphrase, told Silver that he knew that if a player caused the same type of uproar with something he said or tweeted, the player wouldn’t be able to skate on it. There would be some type of repercussion. So, James wanted to know, what was Silver going to do about it in Morey’s case?”

The NBA revolves around its player, compared to other leagues that emphasized the league itself or the teams. This has given NBA players a lot more publicity and power to demand trades. When they do a lousy job, like Davis with the Pelicans, their defense is always to compare themselves to GM7s. “If we get traded, it is just business, but if we demand a trade, then we are traitors.”

First of all, people don’t buy David Griffin or Danny Ainge jerseys. We care more about the players than front office personnel. Secondly, Ainge got a lot of grief and hate from fans for the Thomas trade – it’s not true GM’s don’t get criticized. Thirdly, and most importantly for this discussion – GM’s don’t complain about being criticized and accept it as a part of the gig. With power comes responsibility.

So LeBron asking Silver why didn’t Morey get punished as much he believes a player would in a similar situation points out the heart of the issue, and shines a light on LeBron’s statement. If you listen to LeBron again, what he is trying to say is that players are under constant pressure and have to consider all ramifications of what they tweet or say – if they don’t, they are guaranteed to get in trouble. But now a GM makes a mistake like that, and the league protects him and asks players to stand in front of reporters and answer complicated questions.

For LeBron, that was the issue he wanted to address. He may have a point, but the timing and delivery were all wrong. This is the new reality of player empowerment – you get our attention at all times, not only when it suits you.