Posts Tagged ‘LeBron James’


Big Deal, Little Deal, No Deal?

Posted on: December 25th, 2018 by Ron Kaplan

The good folks at Pardon the Interruption have a regular segment by this name in which they rate the importance of certain issues that pop up in sports, Usually it’s something like social media comments by athletes or arguments bewteen players and officials, but here’s one I’m tossing in (disclosure: I have not watched the show lately to see if they reported on it, although they have been on holiday hiatus recently).

So here’s the deal: LeBron James tweeted about a song he likes that has what many believe to be anti-Semitic overtones.

Some —  like Brooklyn Assemblyman Dov Hikind — think it’s a big deal.


Others — and I won’t get into whom they might be — think it’s no deal. I fall in the middle. I’m not as outragd as some, but rather a bit annoyed.

Should we take it on faith that a grown man like James didn’t realize the lyrics might be offensive? I don’t think so. He’s been a round long enough to know the score.

Should we accept that he’s sincere in his apology? I’m willing to give him the benefit of the doubt on that one.

That’s all I have to say on the matter.

Speaking of giving up…

Posted on: August 28th, 2013 by Ron Kaplan

Finally got around to reading Scott Raab’s poisoned pen letter to a basketball great.

In The Whore of Akron: One Man’s Search for the Soul of LeBron James, Raab — an “expatriate” from Cleveland and hardcore fan of all the local teams thereof — writes an insightful, witty, frequently vulgar story which just goes to prove the folly of plighting one’s trough with a celebrity, whether it’s an athlete, movie star, or musician. It is a brutally frank and sometimes too open account; nothing is off limits for Raab, whether it’s discussing his yiddishkeit (the family name was originally Rabinowitz); his experiences with drugs, alcohol, and weight issues; or his relationship with his family. (Consider yourselves warned. To be honest, I wish I had the cajones to write like that, without worrying what other people would think. Maybe one day…)

As a homegrown basketball deity (born in Akron), “King James” was a beloved figure in Cleveland, who had had a long dry spell when it comes to quality sports. But after opportunity knocked in 2010 in the form of free agency, James wanted to “take my talents,” as he infamously said on an ESPN documentary (and I use that word in the loosest possible sense since they were fawningly in the bag).

How quickly did this commercial come out after James’ announcement?

Which brought on this entertaining response. (Am I the only one who thinks the “delicious pink doughnut” looks orange? And apologies, but the nature of the “beast” is that the video transitions to a new story after the James piece ends, so go ahead and click the “pause key.” Sorry.)


Talk about your spurned lovers. Raab joined the thousands of broken hearted who instantly wished James all sorts of evil, from career-ending injury to all sorts of mean, nasty, ugly things. Unlike regular fans, though, Raab was punished for expressing his displeasure in the form of withheld press credentials which prevented him from doing his job as a writer for Esquire Magazine, to which he has contributed dozens of profiles and articles.

But ultimately, whose fault is it? Why do we think these celebrities care at all about our hopes, thoughts, and happiness? When you get to that point, money isn’t enough; James obviously wanted the jewelry and believed his best chances for that championship ring came elsewhere.

Here’s a video of Raab discussing his work at an event hosted by The Cleveland State University Center for the Study and Teaching of Writing.

It's funny because it's true

Posted on: June 15th, 2011 by Ron Kaplan

I’m no LeBron hater. I don’t think they way he left Cleveland was particularly haimish, but not everyone is a Mother Teresa. Nor do I have any special fondness for Deadspin. I’m in the camp of old fogies that isn’t particularly interested in the partying and/or bad behavior of athletes, unless they’re hurting people besides themselves.

This, however, is funny, given the result of the Dallas-Miami finale.

“99¢ Store now 75¢ store in honor of LeBron, because, you know… that pesky fourth quarter.”

Jewps update, April 28

Posted on: April 28th, 2011 by Ron Kaplan

From the Jerusalem Post:

Israeli basketball player Omri Casspi, who plays for the NBA’s Sacramento Kings, is set to endorse the “cornflakes of champions” and get well paid for it.

Globes reported that Casspi will earn $200,000 for use of his image on a series of ads for Telma’s Cornflakes of Champions.

"Telma's Cornflakes of Champions: Eat it, or else!" (Reuters photo)

And this came up in conversation (I talk to myself a lot):

Is LeBron James Labeled A ‘Choker’ Because Of Race?

The writer for ESPN.com thinks there’s a double standard in play, with LeBron garnering criticism for his poor performance in the playoffs:

A title victory protects an athlete. Don’t have a ring? Likability is the next best defense. If fans identify with a star, they’re less inclined to impugn him. Steve Nash has eluded the cruel “choker” tag, despite many playoff exits. My assumption is that sportswriters and fans are more likely to empathize with someone who looks like them [Emphasis added]. It helps that Nash plays a beautiful game and exudes charisma. So, it makes sense that much of the media narrative surrounding him revolves around how the Suns have failed him — not the other way around.

I think that’s both kind of a dumb thing to say and, in a way, the truth; aren’t most of us more comfortable with people who are like us? Doesn’t mean we have to desire the downfall of others or be hateful of them because of the differences.

But as the writer for SportsNewser points out, “So it has nothing to do with the fact that James is 1-0f-6 when trying to win or tie a game in the closing seconds?”

In other words, we’re not calling LeBron a choker artists because he’s black. We’re calling him a choke artist because he’s underperforming, especially in situations where a superstar should take command and be truly great. But sports fans being what they are — with very short memories and attention spans — he’ll be hailed the greatest man in the universe they next time he has a good game.

Just sayin.’

You can't go home again, can you?

Posted on: December 1st, 2010 by Ron Kaplan

As LeBron James prepares to face his old team and former fans tomorrow night, The Atlantic website wonders “How Awkward Will His Homecoming Be?

Will this be the way Jeter goes out? The very excellent Slate podcast Hang Up and Listen considers the possibilities in their latest installment. (They also had guest Scott Raab of Esquire on last week, telling the world what a jerk (to be very PG) James is.

Two by-the-ways here: First, that episode is decidedly x-rated for language. Second, Raab published a great profile of Philip Roth in the October Esquire.  I’d still love to talk with Roth about his 1973 underrated classic (IMHO), The Great American Novel, but Houghton Mifflin, publisher of his latest book, Nemesis, claims he’s “not doing interviews at this time.” So if anyone out there has an “in” to Mr. Roth…

As Adam Sandler might add to his next version of “The Hanukka Song“:

Look out, Cleveland-a,
Here’s comes LeBronukkah.
The Heat are gonna stomp on ya
before they say “Sa-younara”
I know it’s kind of hard on ya
but try to have a Happy…

LeBron's rabbi?

Posted on: August 17th, 2010 by Ron Kaplan

Yesterday I ran a guest column from Jasmine Marcus about the sudden and perplexing association of NBA players with Judaism. Here’s a follow-up via Pardon the Interruption that aired Aug. 10. Hey, I was on vacation. So sue me.

Miami Heat in the news…and not for LeBron

Posted on: July 26th, 2010 by Ron Kaplan

Miami assistant coach Ron Rothstein recently received the Ram Legend Award.

I guess LeBron was busy for this news cycle.

Speaking of LeBron, here are two rabbinical musings on the subject: one from KK guest contributor Rabbi Jason Miller, the other from Rabbi Shmuley Boteach via the Huffington Post blog.

Gilbert v. James: Totally off my radar

Posted on: July 13th, 2010 by Ron Kaplan

I was listening to the podcast of yesterday’s Pardon the Interruption on the way in to work this morning. The topic was (still) Cavaliers’ owner Dan Gilbert going off on LeBron James.

With all the animosity Gilbert directed at his former star, I never considered, as a white person, that his words carried any type of racial overtones. But yes, they did, at least according to the Reverend Jesse Jackson.

PTI co-host Michael Wilbon — who is African-American — affirmed that, yes, there was something in Gilbert’s comments that smacked of a “slave master mentality,” that James was his “property,” and that Gilbert felt it was his prerogative to “keep” James as long as he deemed appropriate. Guest host (and old white dude) Bob Ryan,  filling in for Tony Kornheiser, didn’t see it that way, comparing Gilbert’s remarks to those of a scorned lover, as many of us — evidently too naive to read between the lines — believed them to be.

Here’s the clip from the show. What do you think?

Granted, this blog is directed at a specific demographic, but am I being too sensitive against Jackson/Wilbon or too insensitive re: Gilbert?

I know it’s impossible to compare, but I can’t help thinking if this was Larry Bird leaving the Cavaliers and pulling the same stunt as James, don’t you think Gilbert would react the same way, with the same caustic statement? Would anyone criticize him for the “slave master mentality” if that was the case? Is it such a philosophy directed against African-Americans or athletes in general? For decades, team owners treated their players as chattel, trading, selling, or releasing them on a whim. Just because they’re shelling out scadillions of dollars doesn’t mean their underlying line of reasoning has changed. “You work for me. I pay you plenty. You owe me — and the fans (but mostly me) — something.”

By the way, despite noting that Gilbert “was completely correct in expressing his disappointment,” NBA commissioner David Stern handed down a $100,000 for his remarks.

LeBron explains it all to you

Posted on: July 12th, 2010 by Ron Kaplan

Via The Daily Show with Jon Stewart.

The Daily Show With Jon Stewart Mon – Thurs 11p / 10c
Midwest Midterm Midtacular – LeBron James
Daily Show Full Episodes Political Humor Tea Party

Don't hold back, Dan Gilbert. Tell us how you really feel

Posted on: July 12th, 2010 by Ron Kaplan

I bet you can’t wait for the first time the Miami Heat visit Cleveland.

In the meantime, you can use this SI.com story featuring Cavaliers owner Dan Gilbert continuing to go off on turncoat former employee LeBron James to keep the flames fanned.


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