Some moron spray-painted the N-word on the gates of NBA star LeBron James’s Los Angeles mansion. The act — both cowardly and grotesque — occurred on the eve of the NBA Finals, the seventh straight NBA Finals the extraordinary James will appear in. The vandalism casts a pall over what should be a celebration of sport, dedication, teamwork and accomplishment. The act sickens people of all races — that great majority of people on earth who are weary to the bone of hate and intolerance. Hearts sink. And people ask themselves, once again, wtf is wrong with some people?
James himself, both customarily elegant and realist, said the vandalism put things in perspective for him, reasserting the priority of his family’s safety and happiness over basketball. With the NBA Finals about to begin James said “basketball is not the most important thing in my life” — just when he should be allowed to grant it some priority, if only for the next two-and-a-half weeks. But he can’t. Because that would be folly, given the world we live in. As James said: “it just goes to show that racism will always be a part of the world, a part of America. You know hate in America, especially for African-Americans, is living every day.” In a better world LeBron James should be fearing Kevin Durant’s jumper right now, not some lowlife agitator vandal and the ugly sentiments he anonymously propagates.
Hopefully, James and the other players will hear the roars of the fans in the Cleveland and Bay Area arenas and be buoyed by the fact that these voices are multiplied by millions of others who have none of that hate in their hearts. It’s not enough, of course. It’s never enough. But as Dr. King said “no one is free until we are all free.” Every person’s freedom is infringed upon, even if they don’t know it, by the crude and hateful racist scrawl aimed at James and his family. The only good news is that, besides its being a crime in America, it’s also the consensus among thinking people that this act was perpetrated by a cowardly idiot without dignity. There will always be those people among us, alas — and just because they can buy a can of paint it doesn’t give their dying ideology any enduring power.