SBD/June 9, 2014/Sports in Society

LeBron James Lauded For Willingness To Take Lead On Social Issues

James has not backed away from speaking on the Donald Sterling scandal
Heat F LeBron James once “embodied the insular, tone-deaf modern superstar,” but now, he is “willing to speak out on social issues, displaying a level of engagement that celebrated athletes often avoid,” according to Billy Witz of the N.Y. TIMES. James and his teammates two years ago posed for a photo in hoodies in the wake of the shooting death of Trayvon Martin, and more recently he “maintained a consistently strong voice" throughout the Donald Sterling saga. James is a “transcendent talent” who “no longer shrinks from big moments, or the burden of carrying a franchise to a championship.” Heat President Pat Riley said, “He’s not afraid to give a very cogent, coherent opinion -- not just with his team, about how to play or what we’re doing right or wrong, or effort, but about social issues, which a lot of people don’t want to do. There’s always somebody you look for in the league to take on that role of O.K., what do you think about what happened? I think he’s willing to step up and express himself. He’s smart. ... And I think he’s confident enough to speak out on anything. I don’t think he cares about the pushback.” Riley said that social media has “taken down the rope between athletes and the public, forcing players to engage.” Riley: “You used to be able to hide somewhat.” Heat Owner Micky Arison said, “He’s learned what it means to be a leader and he takes his leadership position seriously.” James said, “When you become more comfortable with yourself, you start to feel like you can do other things as well. And for me, I speak on issues that I believe is either right or wrong and go from there” (N.Y. TIMES, 6/8).
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