(l-r) Carmelo Anthony and Amar'e Stoudemire. Courtesy: Gothamist.com
As individuals from throughout the United States and in other parts of the world voiced their anger and outrage at the murder of Trayvon Martin, there was an initial frustration from many in the social media world about the reticence and silence from today’s (black) athletes. The wish that athletes, and really black athletes–since it is rare to hear about the failure of white athletes–would uses their platform to shape change has become commonplace. So when the Miami Heat and several other players joined the calls for justice, there was certainly a level of joy and satisfaction.
Whereas individual athletes have a long tradition of protest and using the platform of athletes to express political sentiments, from Tommie Smith and John Carlos to Toni Smith, few teams have collectively taken a stand. Donning hoodies, the Heat stood in solidarity with Trayvon, shining a spotlight on the deferred justice in his case and the real-life dangers of racial profiling. As a team, they stood together as one, although it is clear that both Dwyane Wade and LeBron James were the ringleaders beyond this effort. The picture and the tweet, under the hashtag of #wewantjustice, were in fact the impetus of James himself.
Better get comfy now: the case of The People vs. Lebron James might go through a lull or two over the summer – wedding incidents notwithstanding – but it’ll resume in full force when the NBA season starts again this fall.
For now, almost one week after “The Decision,” everybody involved is looking for sympathy. But aside from those poor kids who were herded onto live television to watch their hometown hero drag his one-man show out longer than the Lost finale, they’re all falling short.
James, of course, has to take most of the blame for this debacle. As an alleged lifelong sports fan, he had to know what he was risking by turning his break-up with both the Cleveland Cavaliers and his native Ohio into a one-night-stand with reality television. If James had taken the usual route for this announcement – you know, a faux-solemn press conference, which would’ve still given ESPN some ratings – it’d all be over but the spin control by this point. Instead, it’s only just begun.