September 30, 2010
This is a sticky subject, so let's just get right in to it — LeBron James(notes) is convinced that race is a factor in the criticism surrounding his signing with the Miami Heat and his television special, "The Decision."
Ira Winderman of the South Florida Sun Sentinel reports there is some data that seems to support LeBron's claim:
A recent release of Q Scores, a polling system that measures popularity, appeared to support the notion.
Among non-blacks, James' negative Q rating went from 24 percent to 44 after his free-agency announcement. However, among blacks, his negative Q Score slipped just from 14 percent to 15 percent. [...]
Also interviewed by CNN during the segment that aired Wednesday night was James advisor Maverick Carter, the CEO of James' marketing wing, who agreed about the impact of the race factor.
"It definitely played a role in some of the stuff coming out of the media, things that were written for sure," Carter said.
Now, as one of the pastiest fellows to ever walk the Earth, I'm not really in position to say whether or not race was a factor in why people didn't like the way LeBron James left the Cleveland Cavaliers. From a personal standpoint, I can assure you that I would have thought it was very poorly handled and ridiculous no matter what color LeBron was. Arrogance comes in many shades.
[Photos: LeBron James with his new team]
However, what I do know is that LeBron saying that he thinks race is a factor will make his actions seem even worse to people who do think it was a factor. That is stupid on so, so many levels, but sadly, it's true. People who consider race when deciding how they feel about someone are more than happy to use these sort of statements against a person. Because they are stupid.
Anyway, maybe race was a factor. The Q Scores certainly seem to support that theory. Then again, his negative rating did slip among black respondents — just not as much — and he was criticized by people such as Michael Jordan, Magic Johnson and Charles Barkley, all of whom are black. Clearly, his moves weren't a big hit no matter the person's race.
[Video: LeBron at Heat media day]
Again, as a white guy, there's no way I can know how LeBron is feeling, but I just have a hard time believing people would have been OK with what LeBron did this summer if he weren't black. And really, that's how it should be. People should hate "The Decision" because it was stupid, not because of LeBron James' race.