Here we go again. After Doug Gottlieb‘s naiveté was revealed in a tweet earlier this week about Kobe Bryant, now Gerald Rivera is speaking out about LeBron James wearing the same “I can’t breathe” shirt before Cleveland’s blowout win in Brooklyn Monday night. Rivera said on Fox News’ Hannity last night that James should have worn a “‘Be A Better Father'” shirt, or “‘Raise Your Children.'”
By way of Media Matters, comes the Hannity segment where Rivera discusses James’ decision to wear a t-shirt calling attention to Eric Garner‘s last words before dying in police custody:
“I wonder to myself, what if LeBron James had instead worn a shirt that read, ‘Be a better father to your dad,’ I mean ‘Be a better father to your son.'” Rivera asks, before offering up another alternative shirt reading: “‘Raise your children.'”
We’re a basketball periodical and web log, so we usually leave the politics to other people. We dipped our toes in the Gottlieb affair, which — to his credit — he’s since apologized for, but that was only because we feel so strongly about what NBA players are doing, and so aghast at the misinformed Gottlieb tweet.
With Rivera now calling out LeBron, the issue is beginning to spiral into so many other issues and overly politicized subjects that have only a peripheral relationship with basketball. We’d be doing our readers a disservice if we were to write exactly how we feel about Rivera’s remarks. We’re a largely apolitical group of writers and workers who just love hoops.
That being said, Rivera’s call for LeBron to wear a different message on his pre-game t-shirt is almost more disheartening than Gottlieb’s tweet. There are a lot of problems in America: a wealth divide that continues to increase, millions of imprisoned African-Americans, a polarized electorate and stagnating executive and congressional offices who can’t agree on anything. LeBron could wear a shirt before every game talking about each of these issues and he wouldn’t be able to cover even a small sliver of them; specifically those topics affecting an African-American community who looks up to him.
LeBron’s just one man, and it’s not even his job. The problems currently facing America are too variegated and too deeply rooted in our institutions for one man to solve alone, even one as powerful as the President of the United States.
Did you notice the ethnic makeup on the set of Hannity when Rivera made his comments? Yeah, and Geraldo’s talking about how African-American leaders — like LeBron — can improve their community with a different t-shirt. Give us a freakin’ break.
A police officer killed an unarmed Staten Island man who was being arrested for selling illegal cigarettes. That dead man was black. A police officer in Missouri shot an unarmed man and killed him. That dead man was black. Both police officers were white and didn’t get indicted for their crimes.
Changing the topic is just glossing over those facts. Changing the topic to nuanced sociological problems — without citing any empirical data to support the claims, and which definitely stem from a lot more than any specific characteristic Rivera can attribute to an entire community of African-Americans — just makes it that much worse.
Rivera’s comments about LeBron made us queasy, but we want go back to talking about hoops now, and we bet LeBron does, too.
What do you think?
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