LeBron James spoke with the media Wednesday night following the Los Angeles Lakers' 128-109 win over the Portland Trail Blazers, but turned the tables for a few minutes and took control of the news conference to ask the media a question about two seemingly unrelated people: Brooklyn Nets player Kyrie Irving and Dallas Cowboys owner Jerry Jones.
"I was wondering why I haven't gotten a question from you guys about the Jerry Jones photo. But when the Kyrie [Irving] thing was going on, you guys were quick to ask us questions about that."
"When I watch Kyrie talk and he says, 'I know who I am, but I want to keep the same energy when we're talking about my people and the things that we've been through,' and that Jerry Jones photo is one of those moments that our people, Black people, have been through in America. And I feel like as a Black man, as a Black athlete, as someone with power and a platform, when we do something wrong, or something that people don't agree with, it's on every single tabloid, every single news coverage, it's on the bottom ticker. It's asked about every single day.
"But it seems like to me that the whole Jerry Jones situation, photo — and I know it was years and years ago and we all make mistakes, I get it — but it seems like it's just been buried under, like, 'Oh, it happened. OK, we just move on.' And I was just kind of disappointed that I haven't received that question from you guys."
Irving was recently suspended for failing to apologize after promoting an antisemitic film and returned to the court just a few weeks ago. Irving and James played together for two seasons on the Cleveland Cavaliers, and James was asked questions about his former teammate when the incident first happened.
Jones has been in the news lately due to the emergence of a photo from Sept. 9, 1957, recently published by the Washington Post, which shows a 14-year-old Jones looking on at a desegregation event at his school, North Little Rock High School in Arkansas. That event was six Black students trying to attend the school for the very first time.
Jones has responded to the photo, saying that he was a "curious kid" who "didn’t know at the time the monumental event that was going on."
James has a connection with the Cowboys. Even though he's a Cleveland native, was a Dallas fan for a long time. However, in October 2022, James revealed that he was no longer supporting the Cowboys as his NFL team and had switched to the Browns. The reason: Jones' response to the social justice protests that swept the NFL six years ago.
“Nah, man. I had to sit out on the Cowboys, man,” James said on Instagram Live when he was asked if he was still a Cowboys fan. “There’s just a lot of things that were going on when guys were kneeling. Guys were having freedom of speech and wanting to do it in a very peaceful manner. … The organization was like, ‘If you do that around here then you will never play for this franchise again.’ I just didn’t think that was appropriate.”
Colin Kaepernick started kneeling during the anthem at NFL games in 2016, and Jones commented on his (and by extension the Cowboys') stance on kneeling in October 2017, saying "if there is anything disrespecting the flag, then we will not play. Period."