Tag: Los Angeles Lakers

LeBron James, Michael Jordan and President Trump’s obsession with influential black male athletes

In a week jam packed with soulful culture, a President squeezed in a jab at the NBA GOATs, and the GOATs won

By Justin Tinsley             August 6, 2018

Exactly 23 minutes before midnight — amid the social media celebration of Barack Obama’s 57th birthday on Aug. 4 – President Donald Trump, as he is prone to do, fired off a tweet that made international headlines. This time he brought into his crosshairs two men who made No. 23 an iconic symbol of dominance: LeBron Jamesand Michael Jordan.

The interview to which 45 is referring is James’ sit-down with CNN’s Don Lemon after the opening of I Promise elementary school in his hometown of Akron, Ohio. Like many other NBA players, Jordan came to James’ defense. “I support LJ,” Jordan said in a statement as short and to the point as the famed 1995 fax that signaled his return to the NBA. “He’s doing an amazing job for his community,” Jordan continued.

The new Los Angeles Lakers superstar had never bitten his tongue on the subject of Trump. “What I’ve noticed over the past few months,” James said, “[is] he’s kinda used sports to kinda divide us, and that’s something that I can’t relate to.” Asked what his response would be if Trump were in front of him, James kept it a hundred: “I would never sit across from him.”

It’s been a soulful cadre of days in culture. Intense. Hours before Trump’s tweet, the day began with the release of a slew of new music. Mac Miller’s Swimming, his first album post-Ariana Grande, is a petri dish of heartbreaking and depressing emotions. The result is an enthralling real-time listen to a man attempting to put his life back together. Enigmatic rhythm and blues starlet H.E.R.’s I Used To Know Her EP dropped, and it’s a fulfilling place holder for her long-anticipated album.

YG’s Stay Dangerous finds him reunited with DJ Mustard for his third studio project. It looks, sounds, feels and even seems to taste like South Central Los Angeles. Whether Dangerous lives up to the exquisiteness of 2014’s My Krazy Life or the brilliance of 2016’s Still Brazy is a discussion best left to time, but Bompton’s own found his new single “Big Bank” in the middle of the newest NFL public relations drama.

Colin Kaepernick’s name was edited out of Big Sean’s verse on Madden NFL 19’s soundtrack. Big Sean quickly took to Twitterdenouncing the move, and YG also pledged his allegiance to Kaepernick. EA Sports quickly apologized, but the damage was done. Especially as Kaepernick’s name had been edited out of last year’s soundtrack as well.

James, the kid from the mud of Akron, is the started-from-the-bottom American success story Trump has fancied as his own, since forever.

The standout project of the weekend is Travis Scott’s ASTROWORLD. Much has changed for the Missouri City, Texas, native since 2016’s standout Birds In The Trap Sing McKnight. The biggest shift being that Scott is now the father of infant daughter Stormi with Forbes cover girl and cosmetics industry mogul Kylie Jenner.

ASTROWORLD, which is projected to be a No. 1 pop album, is blessed with a variety of subjects and ambience. With features from Frank Ocean, Stevie Wonder, Swae Lee, James Blake, Quavo and Takeoff, Pharrell, The Weeknd, Drake, Gunna and 21 Savage, ASTROWORLDhas quickly won rave reviews. James posted a workout videoapproving of Drake’s verse on the magnificently hard-hitting “SICKO MODE.”

I tried to show ’em, yeah / I tried to show ’em, yeah, yeah

Since announcing his candidacy in 2015, Trump has stirred the pot in the world of sports. The Trump/James collision course has been in motion for years, although tensions weren’t always so forthright. Case in point is this June 2003 photo of Trump, Melania Trump and James’ mother, Gloria, at the NBA draft. Or that time in 2010 when Trump tried to coax James to join the New York Knicks. Other interactions, moments and coincidences include:

May 11, 2015 — Trump calls James a “great competitor” after his game-winning 3 in Chicago. It was Game 4 of the Eastern Conference semifinals. Two years earlier, he referred to James as a “great guy” after James scored Athlete of the Year at The ESPYS. And a year before that, Trump was rooting for James and his Miami Heat.

July 18, 2016 — Nearly a month to the day after James, Kyrie Irving and the Cavaliers brought Cleveland its first pro sports title in 52 years, Trump takes his victory lap at the Republican National Convention — also in Cleveland.

Oct. 12, 2016 — James disavows Trump’s “locker room talk” in response to the Entertainment Tonight clip that featured The Apprentice star saying, among other things, “I moved on her like a b—-, but I couldn’t get there. And she was married. … Then all of a sudden I see her, she’s now got the big phony tits and everything.”

Oct. 2, 2016 — James officially endorses Trump’s political foe Hillary Clinton, saying, “Only one person running truly understands the struggles of an Akron child born into poverty. And when I think about the kinds of policies and ideas the kids in my foundation need from our government, the choice is clear.”

Nov. 6, 2016 — James and then-teammate J.R. Smith appear onstage with Clinton at a Cleveland rally.

Nov. 9, 2016 — James takes to Instagram the morning after Trump’s victory. “Minorities and Women in all please know that this isn’t the end, it’s just a very challenging obstacle that we will overcome!!” he wrote with Kendrick Lamar’s battle cry “Alright” as his soundtrack. “The man above will never put something in our paths that we can’t handle no matter how difficult it may feel/be! To all the youth out there I PROMISE I’ll continue to lead u guys every single day without no hesitation!!” Note the “I Promise” being in all caps also.

Nov. 10, 2016 — The Cavs visit then-President Barack Obama, marking the last time an NBA championship team has visited the White House.

Nov. 11, 2016 — James reluctantly moves forward in a world with Trump as president. “I mean, he’s our president. And no matter if you agree with it or disagree with it, he’s the guy, and we all have to figure out a way that we can make America as great as it can be,” he said. “We all have to figure out a way that we can better our country because we all know that, and we all feel it. This is the best country in the world, so we all have to do our part. It’s not about him at all. Especially not for me, and what I do.”

Dec. 7, 2016James’ decision to boycott the Trump SoHo Hotel impacts Trump’s bottom line.

Sept. 23, 2017 — The “bum” tweet heard ’round the world (and among the year’s most retweeted):

July 30 — James sits down with Don Lemon for CNN interview.

In short, James, the kid from the mud of Akron, is the started-from-the-bottom American success story that Trump has fancied as his own, since forever. And Trump’s recent tweet is evidence of James’ point about the president using sports as a divisive tactic, and as a way to skirt around issues at hand by igniting a smoke screen — this administration’s version of James’ vaunted chase-down block. And Trump really did bring Jordan into it. It felt like he couldn’t resist. Since James became a teenage celebrity shortly after the turn of the century, he and Jordan have been kindred spirits. The widely accepted greatest of all time and the supernatural kid from Ohio who might overtake the man he grew up idolizing.

And as James’ résumé has ballooned into the one-of-one spreadsheet it is, the Jordan/James debate has only intensified, and Trump’s tweet placed Jordan in an awkward position. He is a basketball god, a man whose on-court legacy needs no security detail. But among the differences in the legacies of these two titans is James’ willingness to use his platforms as spaces of change while still the league’s top dog. Among Jordan’s core commitments, as with James, is education in underserved black communities, but Jordan’s more-than-an-athlete life is often and unfairly summed up in an unsubstantiated quoteabout Republicans and sneakers.Asked what his response would be if Trump were in front of him, James kept it a hundred: “I would never sit across from him.”

During Muhammad Ali’s exile, The Champ battled the government. And so this current moment is unprecedented. Never before has a sitting president and an athlete of James’ caliber been so publicly at odds. Trump’s failed divide-and-conquer tactics do, however, make for a fascinating possibility — Jordan and James joining forces somehow.

What if, despite an ongoing, unsolvable NBA debate with them at the epicenter, their names become linked not just at the bar or barbershop in Who Is The Best Athlete arguments but also among those who most changed the world for the better? Imagine if they became teammates, after all.

From foe to friend: Lance Stephenson finds it funny he and LeBron James are teammates

AP Photo/Darron Cummings


Ohm Youngmisuk ESPN Staff Writer

LAS VEGAS —After all the antics and the rivalry he had with LeBron James, Lance Stephenson finds it “actually funny” that the two former foes are now teammates on the Los Angeles Lakers.

“Uh, it was actually funny that I am actually on the same team,” Stephenson said in a conference call on Tuesday. “I am very excited to see what that brings and just playing with him, one of the best players to play the game, is going to be amazing. I can’t wait to get on board.”

The Lakers officially announced their signing of Stephenson, who once famously blew into James’ ear in an attempt to do anything to throw James off his game. After battling each other in the Eastern Conference for several years, mostly when Stephenson was with the Indiana Pacers, Stephenson said James’ side reached out to his agent this offseason about the idea of teaming up together.

“I was actually surprised he made the move to L.A.,” Stephenson said of James leaving the Cleveland Cavaliers to sign with the Lakers. “I guess he needed a new look. I feel like just him reaching out and showing that he liked what I bring to the game is amazing. I just can’t wait to be on the floor with him, actually get on the court with him.”

The Lakers signed James, Stephenson, Rajon Rondo, JaVale McGee and re-signed Kentavious Caldwell-Pope to go with a young core that includes Brandon Ingram, Lonzo Ball, Kyle Kuzma and Josh Hart.

Stephenson says the Lakers want him to bring his defensive edge, be a veteran leader and just be himself. The guard, who averaged 9.2 points and 2.9 assists last season, isn’t worried about the Lakers having a plethora of ball handlers and playmakers despite the fact that many around the league wonder how it will all mesh.

“It is going to give us a great advantage,” Stephenson said. “We have a lot of unselfish guys and winning guys and even the young guys you can see they are the same way… we have a lot of potential and different ways we can win games and I feel like we are definitely going to show that this season.”

“I actually talked to [head coach] Luke [Walton] and he basically told me he wanted me to be myself, bring that defensive edge, be a leader on and off the court for the young guys and just bring that focus of winning and coming to compete every night,” Stephenson added. “But the one that stands out the most is letting me play and let me be myself, and when you got a coach telling you that stuff, it is just amazing.”

The Lakers also officially announced the signing of second-round pick Sviatoslav Mykhailiuk and McGee, who comes to the Lakers after winning a championship with the Golden State Warriors. McGee says he likes how all the Lakers’ defensive pieces fit between himself, Rondo, Stephenson, James, Caldwell-Pope, Ingram, Ball and Hart and that the Lakers can challenge the Warriors.

“Yeah, it’s definitely possible, but it’s not going to be easy,” McGee said when asked about posing a threat to beat the Warriors. “Obviously they have five All-Stars now, four immediately. But it’s definitely going to be defense over anything. Going into playing the Warriors you’ve got to be extremely focused just because the Warriors like to play off of every single mistake that you make, especially turnovers, so keeping the turnovers down and playing great defense will definitely enhance our chances of beating the Warriors.”

“I think all the pieces are going to fit perfect,” McGee added of the Lakers’ defensive additions. “We all definitely have great defensive minds. Rondo is great with the steals, also on offense with the passing and court vision. Lance, he’s pretty good at defense also. Bringing me into the bunch as a rim defender and a big who can switch is just an amazing process and I really give kudos to the front office.”