When the news broke that Zlatan Ibrahimovic called out LeBron James for his outspokenness on social justice and politics, it seemed inevitable that LeBron would not take it well. From his start in the league, LeBron has been the voice of both the NBA and the majority of players. Athletes such as Muhammad Ali, Bill Russell, and Kareem Abdul-Jabbar risked not only their reputation but also career speaking out about politics and social reform. However, they didn’t have the same media platforms as athletes today. Michael Jordan chose never to speak out at all. Claiming he was just an athlete, focused on his craft. Not that Jordan’s opinion was wrong, but LeBron speaking out on almost every social and political issue has changed the responsibility some athletes have. Thanks to LeBron, there are new expectations for athletes that sit on the throne of their league, in all sports.
There is significantly more pressure for those considered the best at their sport to speak out and be the voice of the league. For all those that want to know what their athlete stands for politically, there is an equal part that would rather just watch them play their sport. One of the beauties of American sports is the fact you can talk as little or as much as you want about any issues you might have. Regardless of the stance an athlete has, there will be people who both love and hate the fact they use their platform to share their views. However, very few are in the greatest of all-time discussion and experience the same coverage and pressure.
LEBRON ADDS ONE MORE CHECKLIST
LeBron did nothing wrong speaking out about politics or social issues, the biggest problem was, he did it so well. When other legendary athletes were speaking out in their time, there was not nearly the same media. While there was significantly more media coverage in the Jordan era it DEFINITELY not the same as LeBron’s era once social media came around. While Jordan didn’t speak on politics, it can be safe to say he was, at that time, the biggest star anyone had ever seen. Jordan showed the impact an athlete can have worldwide, but LeBron took it a step further. Not only did LeBron have worldwide recognition but showed the impact of his platform. While Ibrahimovic can choose to share his opinion or not, the fact of the matter is, most people will always be looking to James for his stance on social and political issues.
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THE KING AND HIS PLATFORM THE KING AND HIS PLATFORM
Beau is currently a local coffee roaster in his hometown of Staunton, Virginia. In his free time, he enjoys writing and talking about sports to anyone who will listen. Every day he listens to various sports radio shows and tries to keep up with the latest news on the Milwaukee Bucks.