LeBron James: Race Factor in Post-‘Decision’ Backlash

by September 30, 2010

by Marcel Mutoni / @marcel_mutoni

When Team LeBron somehow came to the conclusion that it would be a good idea for James to announce his free agent decision during a 1-hour live television event, everyone (except for them) realized that things would never be the same.

The resulting fallout was immediate, loud, and ultimately predictable. According to LeBron and his best friend Maverick Carter (who serves as CEO of their marketing company), the public and media didn’t just turn on LBJ just because he’s bad at creating television programming — they claim that race played a role in some of the vitriol.

The topic was briefly discussed by the two on CNN last night. The Akron Beacon Journal has the pertinent quotes:

Maverick Carter admitted in an interview Wednesday night on CNN the execution of the “Decision” could have been better. LeBron James is proud of the $3 million the show raised for the Boys & Girls Club. Both men believe race has played a factor in the backlash James has received.

“I think so at times,” James said. “It’s always, you know, a race factor.” Added Carter: “It definitely played a role in some of the stuff coming out of the media, things that were written. For sure.” To be fair, the race question was posed by CNN reporter Soledad O’Brien. It was asked about halfway through the segment, both men answered separately and the piece proceeded with no further mention.

There’s been some discussion about the role of race and culture in the unrelenting post-“Decision” analysis, but this is the first time that anyone from the James camp has addressed the issue, making it significant since LeBron typically steers clear of such controversial subjects.

So, what do you guys think: Did people do a 180 on LeBron James because of the way he left Cleveland, or is he on to something when he brings up the race factor?