LeBron James has 45.8 million followers on Instagram and one of the things those followers get to see a lot is LeBron driving along (or at home, or at the gym) singing along to whatever hip-hop song he’s into that day. On Saturday, that was 21 Savage’s “ASMR.”
Among the lyrics in that song LeBron sang along to was the line, “We been getting that Jewish money, Everything is Kosher.”
That didn’t sit well with a number of Jewish people, and the Action Network’s business reporter Darren Rovell called LeBron out for it.
LeBron apologized, speaking to Dave McMenamin of ESPN Sunday night after the Lakers lost to Memphis at home.
“Apologies, for sure, if I offended anyone,” James told ESPN… “That’s not why I chose to share that lyric. I always [post lyrics]. That’s what I do. I ride in my car, I listen to great music, and that was the byproduct of it. So I actually thought it was a compliment, and obviously it wasn’t through the lens of a lot of people. My apologies. It definitely was not the intent, obviously, to hurt anybody.”
Rovell accepted that apology.
On his Instagram account, Rovell offered an explanation to those that needed it of why the line is offensive to Jewish people.
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Yesterday, I saw that LeBron James posted this on Instagram. He was quoting lyrics from @21savage. “Getting that Jewish money” might be seen as a compliment, as in Jews disproportionate to their population (1.4% of the US), on average, have a significant place among the nation’s most wealthy individuals. The issue is that “Jewish money” is actually a derogatory term that, throughout the history of the Jews, has led to hate. It contributed to hate by the Nazis and along with the long nose in cartoons, it contributed to a stereotype that Jews would do anything for money. I spent all day yesterday battling people on Twitter about why the lyrics were not OK and why quoting the lyrics didn’t absolve LeBron from responsibility. As I expected, last night LeBron told @davemcten he was apologizing if he offended anyone. It was an uphill battle yesterday, but LeBron knows simply acknowledging a mistake goes a long way into helping people understand the other side of “the coin.”