Did race play a role in the backlash — both in the media and in the general public — to LeBron James’ decision to take his talents to South Beach?
LeBron James and his business partner and close friend Maverick Carter both said yes in an interview on CNN Wednesday night (hat tip to Jason Lloyd of the Beacon Journal, and we should note race was a very small part of this interview, discussed and everyone moved on).
“I think so at times. It’s always a race factor,” LeBron said as part of a segment that focused largely on Carter.
“It definitely played a role in some of the stuff coming out of the media, things that were written,” Carter said.
A lot of the backlash seemed to be focused less on the choice itself — outside of Cleveland, anyway — and more on what came off as an egotistical way to do it. But both Carter and James said that “The Decision” — the hour-long show on ESPN announcing his move to Miami — may have had something to do with that.
“The execution could’ve been a little better and I take some of blame for that,” Carter said.
But James noted that the event raised $3 million for the Boys & Girls Club and any “heat” he took was worth it.
There certainly has been a lot of LeBron hate. The numbers back up what James and Carter have said about race.
Among blacks, LeBron’s positive Q rating among dropped from 52 percent in January to 39 — however his negative Q rating barely changed, going from 14 percent to 15. Blacks seemed to change what they thought of him, but to a more neutral stance.
Among non-blacks, LeBron’s negative Q rating went from 24 percent to 44 after the decision.
Why different races reacted to the situation in very different ways would make an interesting study in race relations in America.