NBA superstar LeBron James may blame President Donald Trump if he decides to bolt the Cleveland Cavaliers for the second time.
That is the contention of Fox Sports 1 host Jason Whitlock. The journalist and his Speak for Yourself panelists discussed this possibility after it was raised by several sportswriters, particularly given Cavs owner Dan Gilbert’s ties to Trump. There are conflicting reports/rumors as to whether James has already decided to jump to the Los Angeles Lakers or Clippers when he again becomes a free agent after the 2017-2018 season.
The original nationally televised “Decision” on July 8, 2010, in which LeBron James announced that he would join the Miami Heat prompted outrage among basketball fans in Cleveland and the Ohio region generally. James grew up in nearby Akron, Ohio.
There supposedly is a major rift between James and Gilbert (an ongoing theme), which was exacerbated when Gilbert did not extend the contract of GM David Griffin, a James favorite.
Gilbert made zero contributions to the Trump presidential campaign in 2016, but did pony up $750,000 for the Trump inauguration, Cleveland’s WKYC noted. That donation might be a source friction between James and Gilbert.
Gilbert happened to be visiting the White House when the Chicago Cubs met with President Trump in June.
Parenthetically, the Cavs may also lose Kyrie Irving, who has asked for a trade to a team which will focus the offense around him.
LeBron James was a big Hillary Clinton supporter and campaigned with her in Ohio. Trump wound up carrying Ohio, however. In the aftermath of the Charlottesville incident, James has criticized Trump on Twitter and in some public appearances.
According to Whitock, LeBron is ultimately turning his back on the Cavs for “basketball-winning reasons,” but may give Trump as an excuse to “soften the blow” to jilted Cleveland fans. Making reference to the Netflix original series, Whitlock quipped that “It’s like House of Cards; everything has become political.”
The “left-wing media” will help LeBron sell the anti-Trump narrative “to the hilt,” Whitlock added, if it comes to that.
With Colin Cowherd, Jason Whitlock co-hosts the above-referenced Speak for Yourself, an offering that airs weekdays at 5 p.m. Eastern time, which appears to be the Fox network’s answer to ESPN’s Pardon the Interruption. Both Cowherd and Whitlock previously worked for ESPN.
The contrarian Whitlock — the former Kansas City Star and Huffington Post columnist, and Ball State University football player — rejoined Fox Sports after two tours of duty with ESPN. With views that seldom fit into either the left or right paradigm, Whitlock is a vocal critic of what he considers the intrusion of progressive ideology into sports culture.
Earlier in the segment, Jason Whitlock seemed to suggest that there might be some validity to James being on the move and his opposition to the president.
“When Dan Gilbert cut that check for Trump, did he realize who his number one most valuable employee was, and where he stood on this presidential issue? This is fascinating and could legitimately be at the heart of the reason why LeBron is leaving Cleveland….Let’s say you’re LeBron James and you’re exiting Cleveland for the second time. You get to say, ‘you know why, because this idiot owner supported this idiot president that I don’t like and you don’t like.’ Who’s going to blame LeBron?”
Unlike most sports media pundits other than perhaps Fox Sports Radio host Clay Travis, Jason Whitlock is often a lone voice expressing criticism of the Colin Kaepernick national anthem protest against police brutality and racial injustice, describing it more or less as divisive, childish, uninformed, and self-serving. In a Wall Street Journal essay, Whitlock suggested that the ex-San Franciso 49ers quarterback might be “a Trojan Horse for the progressive media’s attack on an iconic institution.”
Watch Jason Whitlock and his colleagues discuss LeBron James’ future in Cleveland as it relates to Cavs’ ownership support for President Trump and draw your own conclusions.
[Featured Image by Ben Margot/AP Images]