And on the ninth day, Dallas Cowboys owner Jerry Jones took the high road.
Jones has been under national scrutiny since a Nov. 23 Washington Post profile on why he’s never hired a Black head coach included a 1957 photo of a 14-year-old Jones standing behind several white students blocking the desegregation efforts of six Black students at North Little Rock High School.
The issue gained new life late Wednesday night when Los Angeles Lakers star Lebron James chastised the media for not asking him about the Jones photo from 1957. James recently announced he was no longer a Cowboys fan because of the way Jones handled the player protests during the national anthem from 2017-20.
When asked about James’ comments and departure as a Cowboys fan on his radio show Friday morning on 105.3 The Fan, Jones showed the NBA legend respect and praise.
“First of all, you have to hear me say how much I think of LeBron,” Jones said. “I couldn’t, don’t know of anybody that I respect any more. I don’t know of anybody that has taken every opportunity he’s had and maximized it. He, not only, is an absolute great ambassador of sport, but he has taken sports, he has taken his venues and used those platforms. I just want to be sure that you know where I’m coming from. And he made buttons pop off my vest so to speak when he would talk about how much of a Cowboy fan he was. He would have made a great tight end. That doesn’t change. There’s nothing about any of that that changes, and I did hear what he had to say.”
James wanted to know why he had he not been asked about the photograph, especially considering the same media had asked him about Brooklyn Nets guard Kyrie Irving sharing a link on social media to a documentary containing antisemitic views.
“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. “But when the Kyrie thing was going on, you guys were quick to ask us questions about that.”
James continued: “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. 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.”
Asked if he had any thoughts on James’ comments, Jones stood strong in his admiration for James, while allowing they may be kindred spirits in how they have used their attention and platform to help others.
“I’ve just given them to you. I’m just giving them to you there,” Jones said. “Certainly he has influence and just because of all of the above, his accomplishments, how he utilized his sport, how he has utilized his platform, how we have done it. He’s made — he has enhanced basketball. He has made a lot of people a lot of money. I hope I have, too.”
James grew up a huge Cowboys fan in Akron, Ohio.
But on an Instagram Live to promote his podcast “The Shop,” in October, James let it be known that was no longer a Cowboys fan because of Jones.
In 2017 when many NFL players began kneeling during the national anthem in a peaceful protest against police brutality against people of color, Jones said his players would stand with their toes on the line or they would not play for the Cowboys. Jones said he would not tolerate his players “disrespecting the flag.” Jones did soften his stance in 2020 when asked fans to show his players grace if they chose to kneel. It was too little too late for James.
“I had to sit out on the Cowboys, man,” James said on the podcast. “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.”