NBA superstar LeBron James issued an apology over the weekend after an Instagram story in which he shared rap lyrics that referenced “Jewish money.”
James had made an Instagram post that quoted the song “ASMR” by rapper 21 Savage, which included a reference to “we been getting that Jewish money, Everything is Kosher.” The post was first noticed by former ESPN reporter Darren Rovell, now of The Action Network.
The Los Angeles Lakers star apologized in a statement to ESPN.
“Apologies, for sure, if I offended anyone,” James said in the statement. “That’s not why I chose to share that lyric. I always [post lyrics]. That’s what I do. I ride in my car, I listen to great music, and that was the byproduct of it. So I actually thought it was a compliment, and obviously it wasn’t through the lens of a lot of people. My apologies. It definitely was not the intent, obviously, to hurt anybody.”
James has 45.8 million Instagram followers.
Now in his first year with the Los Angeles Lakers, James has emerged in recent years as one of the more vocal professional athletes when it comes to political issues, expressing support for the Black Lives Matter movement and addressing President Donald Trump as “u bum” after the president disinvited the Golden State Warriors from a White House ceremony.
There was a similar controversy back in 2007 involving former NBA player Michael Ray Richardson. Per ESPN, Richardson was suspended from his coaching position with the Continental Basketball Association after giving an interview in which he stated that “I’ve got big-time Jew lawyers,” and praised Jewish people as “real crafty,” citing the effectiveness of the security protocols at Ben Gurion Airport in Tel Aviv.
This is not the first time this season that a lyric by that particular rapper has referenced the NBA. Per For the Win, on the song “A Lot,” on 21 Savage’s album I Am, guest performer J. Cole mentions that he is “praying” for Philadelphia 76ers guard Markelle Fultz, who has missed most of the last two years with physical ailments, most recently diagnosed as thoracic outlet syndrome.
“I pray for Markelle cause they f–ed up his shot/ Just want you to know that you got it my ni–a/ Though I never met you, I know that you special and that the Lord blessed you/ Don’t doubt it my ni–a,” say the lyrics of the song, which was released earlier this month.