NBA star and billionaire LeBron James took issue Thursday with what he says is an incongruous reaction to a recent racism controversy involving Jerry Jones, the billionaire owner of the Dallas Cowboys, and the more intense backlash faced by fellow NBA player and James’ former teammate Kyrie Irving after Irving promoted an antisemitic documentary.
The Washington Post revealed last week a photo depicting a teenaged Jones overlooking a menacing group of White boys blocking Black students from desegregating Jones’ Arkansas high school in 1957, with Jones confirming to the paper he was in fact at the demonstration.
“I was wondering why I haven’t gotten a question from you guys about the Jerry Jones photo,” James asked reporters early Thursday, referring to the apparently lacking media and public response to the Jones saga.
“But when the Kyrie thing was going on, you guys were quick to ask us questions about that,” James continued, expressing frustration at the far-larger controversy following Irving after the Brooklyn Nets player shared a link to a film on Amazon propagating dangerous stereotypes about Jews and refused to condemn antisemitism for days, leading to an 8-game suspension for Irving last month and his primary sponsor Nike to sever ties.
“I feel like as a Black man…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,” James said. “But it seems to me like the whole Jerry Jones situation, photo…it’s just been buried under, like, ‘Oh, it happened, okay, we just move on.’ And I was just kind of disappointed that I haven’t received that question.”
We estimate Jones to be worth $14.5 billion, the 120th largest fortune in the world. That’s largely thanks to his stake in the Cowboys, who we estimate is the most valuable sports team in the world at $8 billion, though Jones recently told Forbes his “greatest wealth’ comes from his natural gas holdings. James officially joined the billionaire ranks in June, becoming the first billionaire active NBA player, and is worth about $1 billion.
Jones attributed his presence at the segregation protest to curiosity. A longtime Cowboys fan often spotted wearing Dallas gear, James said in October he’s no longer a supporter of the team after Jones threatened to bench any of his players who kneeled during the national anthem as a protest against police brutality and other inequities facing Black Americans. Irving’s promotion of antisemitic content came amid rapper Kanye West’s oft-violent tirades against Jews and drew the condemnation of Jewish groups, though West backed Irving as a “real one” in an October Instagram post.
Jerry Jones helped transform the NFL, except when it comes to race (Washington Post)