By Christopher Lomauro
Los Angeles Lakers’ forward and international basketball mogul, LeBron James, is a regular proponent of social justice movements in America. James frequently leverages his platform to bring attention to human rights violations targeting African-Americans, that he alleges are being committed by law enforcement officers in the United States often. 1 The Lakers’ star is also a staunch supporter of the Black Lives Matter movement, propagates national anthem protests in American professional sports, and has branded himself through his self-designated slogan: “more than an athlete”. 2 3
While James regularly voices his concern for issues pertaining to human rights, social oppression, and racial inequality in the United States, going as far as to question, by ways of a Twitter post, why America does not love and appreciate black people the way it does other racial groups, 4 he refrains from making critical comments relating to human rights violations currently being committed by the Chinese Communist Party against their citizens.
As a figure who lauds his use of his own platform to fight against social injustice both in America and around the world, many have begun to question why James is always on the offensive when it comes to human rights violations he feels are being committed by the U.S., while remaining hesitant to ever criticize those committed by China. 5 The CCP is currently placing Uyghur Muslims, homosexuals, and Hong Kong freedom fighters into internment camps, where they are reeducated, tortured, and forced into labor. 6 No activity in that same realm of cruelty is being perpetrated within the United States’ borders by government-run entities. Yet, James regularly condemns President Trump and his administration for his lack of consideration for the American people, especially minority Americans. 7
When Houston Rockets’ General Manager, Darryl Morey, came out publicly in criticism of China’s violations of its citizens’ basic liberties this past October, James ran to the defense of the CCP by going on camera to say that Morey is not educated properly on the situation. 8 When James began to take flack from the media for refusing to share his thoughts on the situation in China, he responded through a series of tweets in which he stated that “others can talk about that.”9
So, why does LeBron hold China and the United States to different standards regarding issues related to social oppression and inequality? Many believe the face of the NBA does not want to risk his business ties in China by speaking out against the CCP’s human rights violations. 10 James earns $32 million per year from endorsement deals with Nike, which operates 110 factories across China with 145,000 active workers. Nike’s shoe sales in China have doubled over the last five years, which is undoubtedly benefitting the Lakers’ star financially as well. James’ upcoming movie “Space Jam 2” is also expected to generate a lot of revenue in China, assuming the CCP censors allow the showing of the film within Chinese borders. 11
Knowing that his contract with the Lakers will not be affected by his public condemnation of America, and speaking out against the horrors currently being committed by the CCP could jeopardize his financial ties to China. James feels free to attack his home country while fearing the consequences of criticizing the Chinese government. Keeping all of these factors in consideration, it is glaringly evident that LeBron James is only “more than an athlete” when doing so does not impede his sources of income or his international business ties to oppressive communist regimes.
Chris grew up in Freehold, NY and is currently a graduate student at Rutgers University obtaining a degree in Media Studies. Chris was disturbed by the fliers covering the walls of his school promoting the "Marxist-Leninist Club," and was encouraged to join the fight against socialism after his professors began endorsing the club. He enjoys cooking, working out, fishing, reading, writing, and PC gaming.