Analysis: Lakers star LeBron James shows again the power of his voice

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first_img Lakers, Clippers schedules set for first round of NBA playoffs Lakers practice early hoping to answer all questions LOS ANGELES — Going about parsing LeBron James’ quotes by conventional means tends to fail.Three days after what might’ve been an innocuous statement by any other player had set the NBA aflame, James was asked by a reporter to account for it. When he said he would like to play with Anthony Davis – which some NBA general managers and New Orleans coach Alvin Gentry equated to tampering – did he think he had done anything wrong?“Wrong?” James repeated back to the press.Some people thought it was wrong, the reporter said. AD Quality Auto 360p 720p 1080p Top articles1/5READ MOREUCLA alum Kenny Clark signs four-year contract extension with Packers“So?”The reporter couldn’t hear.“So,” James repeated, breaking into a giggle. While James may have laughed off the Davis comments, it’s unclear what, if any, backlash his outspoken nature could generate. ESPN reported Friday that several small market GMs were ruffled by the perception James could be trying to facilitate a path for Davis to make the leap to the Lakers. The reported news that Davis cares more about winning than money (New Orleans can offer him a supermax deal that other suitors can’t next summer) only fueled that rhetoric.On the same episode of “The Shop,” TV show host Jimmy Kimmel talked about leaning into more partisan political discussion on his own program, with a somewhat unintentional connection to James’ own voice.“It does come with a cost – it’s not without cost,” Kimmel said. “Sometimes you know it, and sometimes you don’t know it.” Trail Blazers beat Grizzlies in play-in, earn first-round series with the Lakers center_img The minute-long finish to James’ comments Friday night after a 112-104 win over the Pelicans was a reminder that James might just be the most powerful, most outspoken voice in sports. When he voices opinions, others tend to react. And it was all too clear that James relishes his ability to provoke, to stir the media into a frenzy and to be able to stand firm even when questioned.This is LeBron James: He doesn’t care what most other people think.He framed his comments about Davis as harmless, rhetorically prompting reporters to ask him about playing with Kevin Durant, Jimmy Butler, Luka Doncic and a number of other NBA stars. He would play with any of them, he said, because they’re all great.The NBA has said in the past that players talking about other players cannot be construed as tampering, which James knows. That includes going out to dinner with Davis, a meeting that happened later that night, according to Yahoo Sports.But James wrapped up his quote with a more telling sentiment: “People get caught up in bunches sometimes when they wish they could control what you say, and they can’t control me. At all.”Sign up for Home Turf and get exclusive stories every SoCal sports fan must read, sent daily. Subscribe here.Even as he played, James was making waves with his voice: On the same night, the third episode of his HBO show “The Shop” aired, in which James said NFL owners were “old white men” with “that slave mentality” when it comes to quashing protests a la Colin Kaepernick.That quote in and of itself made waves, but the deeper sentiment was contained in the less inflammatory part of his thought: “Like, ‘This is my team, you do what the [expletive] I tell you to do or we get rid of y’all.”James bristles at such attempts to control players. That’s imprinted in his brand at this point: His media company, which caters direct-from-athletes media content with minimal filters, is called Uninterrupted. After conservative radio host Laura Ingraham famously told him to “shut up and dribble,” James spun back the phrase into a title of a documentary series he produced about athletes standing up on social issues throughout the last century.James himself has offered strong stances on social issues since his days with the Miami Heat, when he and his teammates were vocal about the shooting death of Florida teenager Trayvon Martin. Turning 34 in just about a week, James is no longer interested in suppressing his opinions for anyone else’s convenience. In the same breath he condemned the NFL for authoritative stamping out of athletes’ voices, he praised NBA commissioner Adam Silver for allowing much more room for the league’s athletes to express their opinions.It’s interesting to note James is not completely out of NFL circles: He’s close friends with Josh Kroenke, for example, the son of Los Angeles Rams owner Stan Kroenke. With James’ level of influence and wealth, he intermingles with the team owner class – in fact, he’s said he wants to own an NBA team one day.Related Articles Trail Blazers, Grizzlies advance to NBA play-in game; Suns, Spurs see playoff dreams dashed How athletes protesting the national anthem has evolved over 17 years Newsroom GuidelinesNews TipsContact UsReport an Errorlast_img read more