LeBron James — possibly one of the best American athletes in a generation — is leaving the Cleveland Cavaliers due to Donald Trump.
James’ eventual exit from the Cavs has been reported both by NJ.com’s Chris Sheridan along with WOIO, Cleveland’s CBS affiliate. James, who will be a free agent following the conclusion of this season, has not yet issued an official statement and isn’t likely to until the end of the 2018 season, given that the Cavaliers — currently the third-ranked team in the NBA’s Eastern conference — are headed to the postseason and could potentially be playing until mid-June.
However, it’s no secret that Cavaliers owner and multibillionaire Dan Gilbert is unabashedly pro-Trump, while his star player has been outspoken in his opposition to the Trump administration. Gilbert, who is also the founder of mortgage lender Quicken Loans, contributed $750,000 to President Trump’s inauguration fund, hoping to win him over in his efforts to have a federal mortgage fraud lawsuit against his company dismissed.
LeBron James, for his part, had one of the most retweeted posts of 2017 when he called President Trump a “bum” in response to the president saying he was withdrawing an invite to the Golden State Warriors — the 2017 NBA champions — over players saying they would boycott the traditional White House visit to protest Trump. James’ opposition to Trump became noticeable following a 2017 incident in which his Los Angeles home was vandalized with racist graffiti.
U bum @StephenCurry30 already said he ain't going! So therefore ain't no invite. Going to White House was a great honor until you showed up!
— LeBron James (@KingJames) September 23, 2017
However, James is no stranger to activism, once wearing an “I Can’t Breathe” shirt during pre-game warmups in solidarity with Black Lives Matter protests in 2014, and speaking out on behalf of Colin Kaepernick, arguing the quarterback was being “blackballed out of the NFL” due to his silent protest of police brutality.
James has also recently been involved in a public beef with Fox News host Laura Ingraham, who took offense to an interview James had with ESPN in which he said President Trump “doesn’t understand the people.” Ingraham said the former NBA Most Valuable Player should “shut up and dribble” rather than share his political views. James responded with an Instagram post, saying, “Basketball is our vehicle but equality is our mission – stand for something positive and do what you can to make a difference!!” He concluded with the hashtag #IWillNotShutUpAndDribble.
'Shut up and dribble' — Fox News's Laura Ingraham to LeBron and Kevin Durant after their criticism of President Trump pic.twitter.com/0BlokQDIIl
— Sports Illustrated (@SInow) February 16, 2018
🗣🗣Great morning to all! Basketball is our vehicle but equality is our mission – stand for something positive and do what you can to make a difference!! Proud to announce we’re dropping the “Equality” PE. There’s always a personal connection with a drop – this one goes beyond basketball. Proceeds go to the Smithsonian Natl Museum of African American History & Culture. #Equality✊🏾💪🏾 #StriveForGreatness🚀 #IWillNotShutUpAndDribble
While LeBron James hasn’t stated which team he’ll play for next year, let alone speak publicly about his supposed departure, it’s rumored that he’s considering playing for either the Philadelphia 76ers or the Los Angeles Lakers. However, if James wants to play for a coach who shares his views on President Trump, he may end up going to San Antonio to play for Gregg Popovich, or to Oakland to play for Steve Kerr.
Michael Boone is a freelance journalist and columnist writing about politics, government, race, and media. He graduated from Texas Southern University’s School of Communication, and lives in Houston’s Third Ward.