In the post-game press conference after the Los Angeles Lakers 128-109 victory over the Portland Trail Blazers, all-star forward Lebron James had some insightful questions for the media. James wondered why he had not been asked about the uncovered photo of Dallas Cowboys owner Jerry Jones as an onlooker as six Black teenagers walked up the steps of North Little Rock High School in Arkansas in the same fashion that he was asked about former teammate and Brooklyn Nets guard Kyrie Irving.
“I got one question for you guys before you guys leave. I was thinking when I was on my way over here, I was wondering why I haven’t gotten a question from you guys about the Jerry Jones photo,” James said. “But when the Kyrie [Irving] thing was going on, you guys were quick to ask us questions about that.”
It’s been well known that Lebron James is a devoted Cowboys fan. He recently rescinded his fandom over Jones’s stance on kneeling during the playing days of Colin Kaepernick. One would think this would be an excellent opportunity for journalists to further talk about this issue, considering James is still one of the prominent voices in the NBA.
However, until the Lakers star brought it up last night, it didn’t happen. James spoke about the possible double standard regarding how Black athletes are covered relative to white ones.
A month ago, James was asked questions in numerous press conferences about Kyrie Irving sharing a link to a film containing anti-Semitic material. The Lakers forward said what Irving did caused some harm to people and also thought the steps laid out for his return were excessive.
“When I watch Kyrie talk, and he says, ‘I know who I am, but I want to keep the same energy when we’re talking about my people and the things that we’ve been through,’ and that Jerry Jones photo is one of those moments that our people, Black people, have been through in America. And I feel like as a Black man, as a Black athlete, as someone with power and a platform, 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.”
Most of us agree that what Kyrie Irving shared was harmful, especially considering the uptick in anti-Semitic hate crimes and speech as of late. The Nets guard had apologized multiple times and had to take steps outlined by the team to play again. However, you can detect a different tone regarding Jerry Jones’s statement about the photo. Jones didn’t denounce hatred or the event; he stated he was “just observing.” It was just treated as a short quote, and nothing more.
“I didn’t know at the time the monumental event that was going on,” Jones said. “I’m sure glad that we’re a long way from that. I am. That would remind me [to] just continue to do everything we can to not have those kinds of things happen.”
Consider all of these elements: The NFL is a predominantly Black league in terms of players; there’s a dearth of Black people as team owners; and Jerry Jones has a reported history of not giving Black coaches an opportunity. This is something that should not be swept under the rug.
Black children were attacked and called all sorts of slurs as schools were ordered to be integrated into the south during the 1960s. It didn’t look as if Jerry Jones would have spoken up about the injustices then; if you’re silent to injustice, you’re complicit. The media should call on him to speak on it now.