LeBron James pledges support for Colin Kaepernick campaign: 'I stand with Nike'

In his closing remarks at the New York fashion show where he revealed his latest shoe, NBA superstar LeBron James said in reference to the 30th anniversary “Just Do It” ad campaign built around ex-NFL quarterback Colin Kaepernick, “I stand with Nike, all day, every day,” according to the Associated Press.

“I stand with anyone who believes in change,” James added on Tuesday night, via the Hollywood Reporter, after receiving the Icon360 award from Harlem’s Fashion Row in New York City and unveiling his Nike shoe line’s first ever female-oriented basketball sneaker, the HFR x LeBron Nike 16.

James previously pledged his support for Kaepernick in an Instagram post on Tuesday:

🗣🗣🗣🗣Just.Do.It ✊🏾 @kaepernick7

A post shared by LeBron James (@kingjames) on Sep 3, 2018 at 4:28pm PDT

“Believe in something,” the Nike advertisement read. “Even if it means sacrificing everything.”

James joins a host of Kaepernick supporters

In making Kaepernick the face of the campaign, Nike drew a clear line in the sand on where it stood on the controversy surrounding the former San Francisco 49ers QB. Some people, from country singers to UFC fighters and shoe-burning football fans, took issue with Nike’s stance, believing Nike does not respect the American flag or the U.S. military because Kaepernick elected to kneel during the national anthem in protest of social injustice and racial inequality. Others, from a former CIA director to tennis star Serena Williams and shoe-buying football fans, pledged their support for Nike and Kaepernick.

LeBron James accepts the Icon360 award from Harlem’s Fashion Row on Tuesday night. (Getty Images)
LeBron James accepts the Icon360 award from Harlem’s Fashion Row on Tuesday night. (Getty Images)

LeBron stays true to his word

In publicly backing the campaign, James — the most high-profile active athlete — is staying true to his recent promise to speak more openly about social issues. James has already been outspoken on matters concerning President Donald Trump, immigration, police brutality and women’s rights.

The meaning behind LeBron’s latest shoe

James put the three women in his life — his mother Gloria, wife Savannah and daughter Zuri — front and center at Tuesday’s fashion show, where he revealed the LeBron-branded Nike high-tops from African-American fashion designers Kimberly Goldson, Undra Celeste Duncan and Fe Noel.

“What I stand for and what I do just comes straight from the heart,” said James, via the Hollywood Reporter. “I am a kid from Akron. … I had the example of my mother every single day. I couldn’t imagine being sixteen years old and having a kid, being a sophomore in high school and having to raise a kid by myself without the means, without the support system – without anything – and giving that kid a sense of pride, a sense of strength, a sense of no worry and because of you, Gloria James, I’m able to receive this award [and to be] in a position today to be able to give back and showcase why I believe African-American women are the most powerful women in the world.”

Don’t lose sight of the real issue

The concern here is that the Nike brand further muddies the water on an issue already misinterpreted by a host of people, including the President of the United States. By James saying, “I stand with Nike,” rather than naming Kaepernick and making clear the former NFL QB’s beliefs, it’s easier to lose sight of what he has been protesting all along — racial inequality in America, not the country’s virtues.

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Ben Rohrbach is a writer for Yahoo Sports. Have a tip? Email him at or follow him on Twitter!

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