“I got one question for you guys before you guys leave,” James said near the end of his postgame news conference. “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. But when the Kyrie thing was going on, you guys were quick to ask us questions about that.”
Jerry Jones helped transform the NFL — except when it comes to race
Irving was suspended last month for sharing a link on social media to a documentary containing antisemitic tropes, eventually apologizing for it after initially refusing to do so. James, who has used his platform as one of the NBA’s biggest stars to address social inequities, faced questions about why few NBA players had commented on Irving’s post.
“Me personally, I don’t condone any hate to any kind. To any race. To Jewish communities, to Black communities, to Asian communities. You guys know where I stand,” James said at the time. “I believe what Kyrie did caused some harm to a lot of people. And he has since … apologized. But he caused some harm, and I think it’s unfortunate.”
Last week, The Washington Post published a story as part of its series on the NFL’s poor record of developing, promoting and hiring Black coaches, and a photo of a 14-year-old Jones was a centerpiece of it.
In the story, Jones acknowledged his presence on the steps of North Little Rock High that day in 1957 but said he was only there to watch: “I don’t know that I or anybody anticipated or had a background of knowing … what was involved . It was more a curious thing,” he said.
On Wednesday, James continued: “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.
“But it seems like to me that the whole Jerry Jones situation, photo — and I know it was years and years ago and we all make mistakes, I get it — but it seems like it’s just been buried under, like, ‘Oh, it happened. Okay, we just move on.’ And I was just kind of disappointed that I haven’t received that question from you guys.”
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James grew up rooting for the Cowboys, but in an October Instagram Live post to promote his talk show “The Shop,” he said he had moved on, citing the organization’s response to players’ protests in recent years. Jones, one of the NFL’s most influential owners, was not supportive in 2017 when athletes were kneeling in solidarity with former San Francisco 49ers quarterback Colin Kaepernick to protest police brutality and social inequality.
“I had to sit out on the Cowboys, man,” James said in that post. “There’s just a lot of things that were going on when guys were kneeling. Guys were having freedom of speech and wanting to do it in a very peaceful manner. … The organization was like, ‘If you do that around here then you will never play for this franchise again.’ I just didn’t think that was appropriate.”