Back in 2011 during the playoffs after a win over Boston, LeBron James found himself in a little hot water when during an interview he thought a question asked Dwyane Wade was lame and muttered under his breath “that’s retarded” and the mics picked it up. Retarded was (and in some circles is) a word thrown around a lot, but if you are using it you intend it as a demeaning insult to something or someone seen as stupid, not as a word to describe a condition (by federal standards that term is “intellectual disability”). It’s a word that is an outdated insult.
LeBron let the word slip out again on Wednesday night, in an interview before Miami went out on the court and got thumped by the Oklahoma City. He quickly apologized after the game.
An hour or so before losing 112-95 to Oklahoma City, James was asked about Thunder forward Kevin Durant’s improvement as a passer and replied, “I actually think that’s a pretty funny thing when people say ‘people’s growth of passing the ball.’ That is retarded to me. Kevin Durant’s growth of being a passer? That’s part of basketball.”
Before taking questions after the game, he opened by saying, “I used the word ‘retarded’ before the game. Obviously it had nothing to do with kids that are underprivileged. It’s no knock on them. It’s a word that’s been around for a long time where I grew up. It’s a bad habit. I’ll try to break it. If I use it again– I’m gonna try to do my best not to. I mean no disrespect.”
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This “controversy” is really more of a Rorschach test than anything — what you think this says about LeBron and his character really says more about what you think about LeBron than anything else.