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LeBron James says race played role in backlash to his decision

Sep 29, 2010, 10:36 PM EDT

Thumbnail image for lebron_decision.jpgDid race play a role in the backlash — both in the media and in the general public — to LeBron James’ decision to take his talents to South Beach?

LeBron James and his business partner and close friend Maverick Carter both said yes in an interview on CNN Wednesday night (hat tip to Jason Lloyd of the Beacon Journal, and we should note race was a very small part of this interview, discussed and everyone moved on).

“I think so at times. It’s always a race factor,” LeBron said as part of a segment that focused largely on Carter.

“It definitely played a role in some of the stuff coming out of the media, things that were written,” Carter said.

A lot of the backlash seemed to be focused less on the choice itself — outside of Cleveland, anyway — and more on what came off as an egotistical way to do it. But both Carter and James said that “The Decision” — the hour-long show on ESPN announcing his move to Miami — may have had something to do with that.

“The execution could’ve been a little better and I take some of blame for that,” Carter said.

But James noted that the event raised $3 million for the Boys & Girls Club and any “heat” he took was worth it.

There certainly has been a lot of LeBron hate. The numbers back up what James and Carter have said about race.

Among blacks, LeBron’s positive Q rating among dropped from 52 percent in January to 39 — however his negative Q rating barely changed, going from 14 percent to 15. Blacks seemed to change what they thought of him, but to a more neutral stance.

Among non-blacks, LeBron’s negative Q rating went from 24 percent to 44 after the decision.

Why different races reacted to the situation in very different ways would make an interesting study in race relations in America.

612 Comments (Feed for Comments)
  1. realmoney - Sep 30, 2010 at 5:22 PM

    A lot of angry man and women on this post. WOW. One thing for sure, white america is upset. A black person is always the punching bag. The big bad black monster is coming to take over. He has a mind and an opinion. Welcome LBJ(top 2%), to the real world(98% everyone else). Are u reading this,LBJ. The hate is real. Where were all the white brothers and sisters when black people where being killed, hung, no schooling, homes burnt, taking of entire black communites, banning black doctors, third world treatment, etc. The list can go on an on. Admit you have no idea about the conditions a black person has to live with or in the past. But, most of you harbor hate for a black person, outwardly or secretly. What a shame. We dont control the money, really. Most of you have been programed to think you can control a black person or are better than a black person. And the majority of blacks were told not to speak up, defer to the white person.
    Theses are real issues. Not LBJ saying race played a role in peoples’ response. But it shows how a subject on race can cause people to come out of the closet. Black people in america always assimilated into america society. A high majority of whites did not want to allow them to assimilate. Thank the Lord people can change. Whites help elect Obama. White racism has become less, compare that to the past. Just admit the past was hell for blacks more then the average america, really. It will calm you down, when one realizes the hell a black person had to endure.

  2. insider - Sep 30, 2010 at 5:33 PM

    Fyi lebron made 8 mil off the decision, he gave the charity 3 and pocketed the other 5 million for “expenses”.

  3. Nickel - Sep 30, 2010 at 5:38 PM

    Bahaha, are you for real? You’re actually trying to say that anyone on here who disagrees with Lebron about race being a factor does so because they’re oppressing black people? That’s why they don’t get it? And that’s supposed to imply they’re racist? Ummm.. there are a lot of BLACK PEOPLE who dislike the classless way that Lebron handled this… so… they’re self hating blacks I guess?
    The reason people are now even more pissed at him is because he struts around claiming to be a role model but doesn’t have the decency to be honest about his own motives or mistakes. He’s bought into his own b.s. so much that he thinks everyone should adore him, and if they don’t there’s something wrong with them.
    He’s a narcissistic ass, and if he would either apologize for the utterly classless way he’s handled this, or just shut up, it would be fine.
    People on here are complaining that people are still hating on him and won’t just let it go, but he’s the one interviewing and talking about this, and still refusing to acknoweldge that people have a right to be disappointed for him in the way he handled it.

  4. Nickel - Sep 30, 2010 at 5:49 PM

    Realmoney, are you for real?
    Where were all the whites? So… every white person participated in or encouraged segregation? I love when people accuse an entire race of being racist.
    Do you know that’s called? It’s called RACISM. congratulations. We have arrived in the land of equality at last.
    Here’s an idea for you, how about JFK? Nice white guy. President. Pushed for desegration and equality and did a lot to even things out, until someone decided to shoot him.
    Now, I am white, but I do understand what it’s like to be the victim of racism. I’ve lived places where white people weren’t allowed to do things people of other skin colors were. So, go ahead and talk about how white people will never understand it because we’ve been programmed to be racist. because IRONY is just totally awesome.

  5. Gadna - Sep 30, 2010 at 5:57 PM

    once again Lebron shows why he will never be a true champion like Jordan, Magic, Kobe and guys like that, 1. He couldn’t wait long enough to elevate his team to being a super power house team, 2. He throws the race card when people start doubting him and questioning his move.
    I’m done.
    What a loser, I used to really like and looked forward to watching him now I can not stand the guy. I’ve never wished failure on someone more then I do him now!!
    Hey Lebron, BREAK A LEG!!!

  6. JT - Sep 30, 2010 at 6:06 PM

    South Beach Talents

  7. Lemonverbeena - Sep 30, 2010 at 6:34 PM

    Don’t think for ONE second that LBJ wasn’t prepped for this interview, in charge of what would be asked of him, in fact, he may have arranged to have the question asked. All celebrities protect themselves by keeping certain things off limits, or promoting their interests and in this case, I believe LBJ felt like he wasn’t getting enough attention, and knew full well he’d stir up the pot. This is what immature people do and he’s the epitome of immature.

  8. rastaman44 - Sep 30, 2010 at 7:35 PM

    White boys never learn, do they?!! The very reactions to Lebrons’s answering a question demonstrates that race did play a part in the reaction to his announcement. Deal with it, idiot!!
    BTW I am getting of you idiots not understanding that acting in a racially insensitive way and being called on it is NOT playing the race card. Get it, douchebags!!!

  9. Kayndaema - Sep 30, 2010 at 7:40 PM

    The sad part of this is that Lebron has lost what he is seeking. No matter how many titles he wins he can never have the trust or respect from the owner and the fans. If he wins the NBA title this year, he will find a bigger void than he ever felt. This decision was strictly about what Lebron wants.

  10. Josh - Sep 30, 2010 at 7:46 PM

    Just the fact that there is so much anger and hatred about this issue should tell you that there is a racial component to this. *Wow* The guy had a 1/2 hour TV show to announce his decision (with mega-support and marketing from ESPN, who made a bundle). *wow* He jumped to the Miami Heat. And *Wow* DWade and Bosh are also there. *Wow wow wow* I guess everybody has to hate him, 44% of white america has to hate him, I guess we have to talk about this for months and years, and Miami has to become “the team to hate.” I didn’t see this kind of animosity about Conan O’Brien or Jay Leno, or even Simon Cowell who is an arrogant jerk of a high order. Lebron seemed quited genuine and friendly about “the decision” and excited to be doing the TV show and get the attention. I general I think he is somewhat shy. If you are still angry about this, you are either a complete loser, or from Cleveland, or both.

  11. Bakarihot - Sep 30, 2010 at 7:52 PM

    I´m as Black as they Come and Could not “AGREE WITH YOU MORE”,I fight Against ANYONE who Feels as though they are BETTER or More “SUPERIOR DUE TO THEIR RACE”,and see NONE in LeBron´s Case.He has Nothing but (POWER),and it is what He has Done with It that is Causing All This “CRAP”.LeBron Really Believe´s He is ABOVE ALL NBA PLAYERS & THEIR PERSPECTIVE ORGANIZATION´S”.He is Truly Smelling Himself and Needs to Show a Little (HUMILITY),and Maybe.Just Maybe He will Gain back some of His Previous Followers.

  12. Lemonverbeena - Sep 30, 2010 at 7:53 PM

    Here it is, Thursday night and I’m STILL laughin’ at your comment from this morning! SOOOOOOOOOOO funny! Again, thanks for the giggle!

  13. Rey - Sep 30, 2010 at 8:05 PM

    You guys are the morons…by hanging on every word this guy says. It seems to me the bonehead moves and comments are sourced with Carter if you ask me. Whatever…people need to get over it and leave the man alone if you don’t like him…i mean the way you guys talk about this guy (notice i’m not mentioning his name) you would think he was the cause of some real crime…you know like robbery, rape, child molestation, genocide, all the various white collar crimes are public officials are involved in…none of these are on his resume…yet you guys carry on as if they are. I find that freaking hilarious! He changed teams and treated it like a big occasion…BIG DEAL…well, ironically I guess it was a big deal because the majority of you sports fans are talking about it STILL…which again I don’t mind so much, it’s when it takes on the fervor of a discussion on the matter of like “National Security” …that’s a little, no ALOT CRAZY!

  14. right - Sep 30, 2010 at 8:07 PM

    yeah sure you’re black Spencer, nice try. Being white and saying your black to make a point more valid is ridiculous. Stop being a fake.

  15. right - Sep 30, 2010 at 8:08 PM

    yeah sure you’re black Spencer, nice try. Being white and saying your black to make a point more valid is ridiculous. Stop being a fake.

  16. Rey - Sep 30, 2010 at 8:09 PM

    You guys are the morons…by hanging on every word this guy says. It seems to me the bonehead moves and comments are sourced with Carter if you ask me. Whatever…people need to get over it and leave the man alone if you don’t like him…i mean the way you guys talk about this guy (notice i’m not mentioning his name) you would think he was the cause of some real crime…you know like robbery, rape, child molestation, genocide, all the various white collar crimes are public officials are involved in…none of these are on his resume…yet you guys carry on as if they are. I find that freaking hilarious! He changed teams and treated it like a big occasion…BIG DEAL…well, ironically I guess it was a big deal because the majority of you sports fans are talking about it STILL…which again I don’t mind so much, it’s when it takes on the fervor of a discussion on the matter of like “National Security” …that’s a little, no ALOT CRAZY!

  17. Manny - Sep 30, 2010 at 10:33 PM

    My $0.02-
    I think Lebron James is trying to become the most hated man in sports on purpose. Somebody among the likes of “Duke and Duke” must’ve came up with some weird experiment on how to take a well-liked NBA player superstar and see how fast people can vilify him without him going to prison for rape, murder, or dog-fighting. This just gotta be on purpose.
    I mean, most of the NBA players are black, right? The people who came out against it who were former NBA players were black, right? Where’s the racism? Because people thought you did something as stupid as hold this 1-hour special only to tell the Cleveland fans and the rest of the world that you are going to join Dwayne Wade’s team? Really???
    People are mad at you, not because you left Cleveland. They are mad at you not because you decided that you needed to join Dwayne Wade’s team. The reason why people were mad at you is because you should have gone about your business a little better. You should have said that you decided to join Dwayne Wade’s team because you thought that you couldn’t win without another superstar on your team. You should have said that you needed Dwayne Wade.
    But you also should have been honest and said that you need to join the Heat so you can get the championship ring. And you should have told it to the Cavalier fans first. Not that fiasco that you did on ESPN.
    Oh, and the $3 Million? You could have raised that easily doing something else besides tanking your credibility.
    So… where’s the racism in that? You want to see racism in the NBA? Steve Nash is a great point guard but we don’t give him enough props because he’s white. Or the fact that I hated Larry Bird ever since I saw the Celtics beat the “Showtime” Lakers from way back. (Still can’t stand him, too. But he was the best spot-up shooter of all time.)

  18. Anonymous - Sep 30, 2010 at 11:10 PM

    dumb black ass…u sound like u racist

  19. Gregg - Sep 30, 2010 at 11:30 PM

    Wow, I didn’t know douche’s had a specific race.
    Has any athlete gone from most popular to biggest jerk as quick as this (without taking roids, getting arrested, dog fighting or killing somebody)?

  20. Liz - Oct 1, 2010 at 12:46 AM

    Wake up and smell the coffee..Race did play a part in the situation…James was a FREE Agent….He can go WHERE EVER HE WANTS..It was about MONEY for Cleveland..Thats really what Cav’s owner was REALLY crying over….Mr Black Man.,,,and I’m a Black Woman…….

  21. Liz - Oct 1, 2010 at 12:50 AM

    Wake up and smell the coffee..Race did play a part in the situation…James was a FREE Agent….He can go WHERE EVER HE WANTS..It was about MONEY for Cleveland..Thats really what Cav’s owner was REALLY crying over….Mr Black Man.,,,and I’m a Black Woman…….

  22. Utah - Oct 1, 2010 at 1:23 AM

    Yes Lagone James was a free agent and go anywhere he likes. I liked him as Cav, but the way he has handled this whole soap opera of free agency is disgusting. One arrogant piece of garbage, hopefully he spends the rest of his NBA career on the injured reserved list.

  23. Really????? - Oct 1, 2010 at 1:41 AM

    Hhhhmmm. I’m not really a race guy…but I do sense that a lot of white ppl and some blacks act as though racism is a acient word that no longer has any relevant meaning. As though all the people who commited atrocities against minorities in the 1900’s are dead and gone along with their influence. WAKE UP PPL! To put it in a better perspective, I propose this.. if you are over the age of 25, it is likely that your grandparents if not your parents were alive to witness the civil rights struggle (I know mine were!). I guess all of the white ppl who were activley fighting against the movement just quit and changed their beliefs after its “success”? But we can’t be that stupid… can we??? Those same ppl still lurk within the lower, middle, and especially the wealthy classes in this country, and so do their offspring.
    So for ppl to act as though Lebron is completly out of line for his statement only shows their ignorance…. not his!

  24. Thank you Lebron - Oct 1, 2010 at 3:09 AM

    For illustrating the stereotype of the dumb athlete. Do you really think that after 30+ years of an African American dominated pro basketball that there’s still hardcore racists watching the game? or that anyone who gives a crap about basketball is going to hate you because you’re black? I understand that racism is still around and people still harbor hateful thoughts but those people probably do not care about a 95% black sports league. However fans that look up to basketball players as heroes and stars would probably like to see better ethics and principals from them and therefore do not like what you did.

  25. Thank you Lebron - Oct 1, 2010 at 3:11 AM

    For illustrating the stereotype of the dumb athlete. Do you really think that after 30+ years of an African American dominated pro basketball that there’s still hardcore racists watching the game? or that anyone who gives a crap about basketball is going to hate you because you’re black? I understand that racism is still around and people still harbor hateful thoughts but those people probably do not care about a 95% black sports league. However fans that look up to basketball players as heroes and stars would probably like to see better ethics and principals from them and therefore do not like what you did.

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