LeBron James Embraces His Political Platform -- And That's A Good Thing
Americans don't have a royal family, but you wouldn't know that for the amount of excitement generated by Prince William and Kate Middleton's trip to the Barclays Center to watch the Nets and Cavaliers play on Monday night.
My Twitter timeline must have had 10 pictures of the couple on the Jumbotron and at least one shot of the back of their heads as they walked through a hallway. The British pair also spent time with Beyonce and Jay-Z, who are about as close to American royalty as you can get without being born a Kennedy.
So it was totally appropriate that, before the game, they got to see LeBron James' "I Can't Breathe" warm-up shirt up close.
Guessing that not since 1773 has Britain been such a proximate witness to this kind of organic American protest. James' and Kyrie Irving's shirts referred to the death of Eric Garner during an arrest this summer in Staten Island. Last week, a grand jury voted not to indict officer Daniel Pantaleo in the incident. The decision has prompted protests each night since, including one that lined the streets outside the Barclays Center on Monday night.
The killing of black men and boys by law enforcement has sparked demonstrations across the country -- why not on a basketball court? Two weeks ago, several St. Louis Rams came out of the tunnel with their hands up, a stance some witnesses say Michael Brown assumed before he was killed by an officer in Ferguson, Missouri. A grand jury in that case also chose not to indict the officer involved, Darren Wilson.
James was asked if the protest was a team thing.
"It's not a Cavs thing," James said. "It's a worldly thing."
Over the last two years, James has broken with the Michael Jordan school of Republicans Buying Shoes. Between speaking out against Donald Sterling and being photographed in a hoodie to support the family of Trayvon Martin, James has begun to embrace his political platform.
Sure it's risky. Shoe sales could go down or, if he stirs up enough controversy to upset the corporate board of directors, he could lose an endorsement or two. But James has been measured in his approach. A few tweets here, a choreographed and symbolic act there -- James is understated yet clear.
And it's been refreshing, although no word on whether Will and Kate approved.
Not a lot of good news this week, so you could skip the next couple of items if you don't want the agita.
There has been a lot written about Rolling Stone's story on the University of Virginia and a rape alleged to have taken place at a school fraternity. The imperfect story could lead certain readers to think campus rape is an overblown issue. That would be a mistake.
Sen. Claire McCaskill of Missouri and the U.S. Senate Subcommittee on Financial & Contracting Oversight have prepared this report. Among the findings: that rape survivors are not encouraged to report the crime, the reports can go uninvestigated and there are few support systems for those men and women.
As we saw with the Duke lacrosse case, stories about sexual assault can be difficult to properly source and write about. But getting all the facts is of the utmost importance, or the damage to both alleged victims and accused -- and to the way these cases are handled in the future -- can be pervasive.
The New York Times did this story on Bill Cosby and the idea of successful men using drugs to rape women. After reading the headline, I thought it was an update on the charges against former NFL Pro Bowler Darren Sharper. A few similarities in the allegations, such as the use of sedatives and the assumed access both men had to consensual sex.