NBA All-Star Game 2014

LeBron James’ fan support has fluctuated differently among white and black fans


LeBron James is the most popular player in the NBA.

That’s what ESPN’s research says. But adoration for LeBron – the percentage of fans who consider him their favorite player – has ebbed and flowed differently by demographics.

LeBron’s popularity took a big dip among both black and white fans when he left Cleveland. But in his second year with the Heat, LeBron re-gained some popularity among black fans while continuing to lose ground among white fans.

By 2012-13, he had already surpassed his final Cleveland popularity mark among black fans. Though white fan support increased from 2011-12 to 2012-13, LeBron still lagged well behind where he left off with the Cavaliers.

Here are the percentage of fans who named LeBron their favorite player by season. Seasons are marked by the year they finished (e.g., 2010 represents the 2009-10 season).


A similar phenomenon exists between avid and casual fans.

A smaller percentage of casual fans considered LeBron their favorite player in 2012-13 than did in 2009-10, but – after taking a two-year dip among both groups – a slightly higher percentage of avid fans called LeBron their favorite in 2012-13 than did in 2009-10.


The racial and NBA-interest splits might not be completely independent. It’s possible blacks are disproportionately represented among avid fans and/or vice versa, just as it’s possible whites are disproportionately represented among casual fans and/or vice versa.

But whatever is driving the swings in support for LeBron is real. These are pronounced differences in his popularity by demographic.

In 2010, LeBron said he believed race was a factor in backlash to The Decision. The evidence indicates he was right.

LeBron: ‘My legacy will speak for itself’

Thabo Sefolosha found not guilty

Thabo Sefolosha
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Thabo Sefolosha clearly believed in his innocence.

The Hawks wing rejected a plea deal of only day of community service and six months probation. That probably would have been easier than a trial.

But Sefolosha opted to fight the charges – misdemeanor obstructing government administration, disorderly conduct and resisting arrest.

Today, he was vindicated.

Robert Silverman:

Sefolosha, who missed the playoffs due to a leg injury that seemingly occurred during his arrest, has made his case clear: New York police targeted him because he’s black. Given everything else we know about policing habits, that’s certainly believable.

We’ve also seen video of multiple officers literally pulling Sefolosha in different directions and one striking him in the leg with a nightstick. We don’t know what preceded that video, but especially given the information revealed at trial, it’s difficult to justify that use of force.

This verdict probably sets up Sefolosha’ to sue the NYPD.

Report: Some Hawks executives doubt Danny Ferry’s contrition

Danny Ferry, Mike Budenholzer
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Since his racist comments about Luol Deng, Danny Ferry has mostly avoided the public eye.

He apologized through a couple statements released around the beginning of his leave of absence. He met with black community leaders. He claimed “full responsibility.”

A cadre of NBA people vouched for him. A law firm the Hawks hired to investigate themselves essentially cleared of him of being motivated by racial bias.

But there’s another side.

Kevin Arnovitz and Brian Windhorst of ESPN:

Ferry’s efforts at contrition sometimes fell short to some inside the organization. Several Hawks executives were at times put off by Ferry’s behavior during a compulsory two-day sensitive training session, especially since they considered his actions triggered the assembly in the first place. He came across as inattentive and dismissive of the exercise, some said, and fiddled with his phone quite a bit. Ferry contends he was taking notes on the meeting.

“It was awkward for everyone because I had not seen or been around Hawks employees for three months,” Ferry told ESPN this summer about the sensitivity training. “I took the seminar seriously, participated in the role-play exercises and certainly learned from the two-day session.”

the Hawks satisfied Ferry on June 22 by releasing both the written Taylor report and a flowery press release in which Hawks CEO Koonin was quoted saying, among other things, that “Danny Ferry is not a racist.” Some Hawks executives grumbled that the team overreached in exonerating Ferry, but doing so — not to mention paying Ferry significantly more than the $9 million he was owed on his “golden ticket” deal — was the cost of moving on.

I don’t know whether Ferry has shown the proper level of contrition, whether he was playing on his phone or taking notes.

But I know what he said:

“He’s a good guy overall, but he’s got some African in him, and I don’t say that in a bad way other than he’s a guy that may be making side deals behind you, if that makes sense. He has a storefront out front that’s beautiful and great, but he may be selling some counterfeit stuff behind you.”

He was not reading directly from a scouting report. He did not stop when his paraphrasing repeated a racist trope.

That’s a problem.

I don’t think Ferry intended to say something racist – but he did.

It’s a fixable issue, though. Through introspection and a desire to change, he can learn from this mistake. Maybe he already has.

That some around him don’t think he took that process seriously is worth noting. They might be off base, and Ferry obviously disagrees with their perception. But this is a two-sided story despite the common narrative focusing on Ferry’s redemption.

It’ll be up to any potential future employers to sort through the discrepancies.