There are two types of sports columnists these days — those who think they should explain what you already saw with your own two eyes and those who aren’t afraid to tell you what you may not want to hear. Jason Whitlock is the latter, which is why LeBron James fans may want to plug their ears.
Whitlock went from newspaper sports columnist in Kansas City to national influencer on sports, culture, and race by virtue of his time working for Fox and ESPN. He recently began writing at Outkick the Coverage, and he’s been on a terror.
Your sacred cows are Jason Whitlock’s hamburger.
Jason Whitlock wants LeBron James’ thoughts on a recently leaked video
Fans watching NBA games the past two weeks understand that sports and politics are now and forever intertwined in ways that John Carlos and Tommie Smith could have never imagined in Mexico City in 1968. In protests that have cut across race, NBA stars moved nearly “all in” on Black Lives Matter with the blessing of the league.
Whitlock, one of the few columnists to show staying power after cracking the color barrier, has been taking note in particular of LeBron James recently. James’ status as both a league veteran and one of the NBA’s all-time greats gives him clout; the media duly reports whatever he has to say, which most recently was a rebuke of Donald Trump.
Between the traditional media and the more recent social media platforms, James possesses a booming voice. However, Whitlock isn’t being timid about shouting right back at him.
Whitlock began his week by arguing that the bootlegged body camera footage from two Minneapolis police officers during the arrest and death of George Floyd presented a story that diverges from what the country has been told so far.
Whitlock labeled the narrative around Floyd’s death a divisive “race hoax” and wondered aloud why James, Gregg Popovich, and Adam Silver among others have said nothing about the substance of the leaked video.
Jason Whitlock turns the ‘dog whistle’ tables
Columnist Jason Whitlock goes several days in a row without being heard from and then returns to fire off columns in rapid-fire succession. That’s what has happened in the first week of August.
President Donald Trump expressed his disgust with seeing NBA players supporting Black Lives Matter and kneeling during the national anthem before games during the rebooted 2019-20 season.
“I really don’t think the basketball community are sad about losing viewership, him viewing the game,” Los Angeles Lakers star LeBron James said. “And that’s all I got to say.”
James opened the door and Whitlock walked through it by calling him a “one trick political activist. His political magic trick is the left-wing dog whistle affectionately referred to as the race card.”
Whitlock tore into George H.W. Bush for playing a thinly disguised race card in the 1988 presidential campaign by turning Willie Horton into a major issue when the career criminal was hardly an accurate representation of his race. The columnist argued that James has fallen into the trap of making “Floyd is the star of this election cycle.” He went on to call it “divisive racial politics” built on the backs of people who won’t be brought back to life by kneeling before games.
Does LeBron James pay enough taxes?
The finale of Jason Whitlock’s three-peat attack on LeBron James came with him calling on politicians to defund sports rather than police, arguing that the windfall could best be used on law enforcement and criminal justice reform. Extending the concept to the entertainment industry as a whole, Whitlock called for a tax bracket of 80% or higher:
“COVID-19 and Black Lives Matter are helping rational people realize LeBron, Alyssa Milano, Lena Dunham, Steve Kerr, Amy Schumer, Colin Kaepernick, Aaron Paul, CardiB, Meek Mill and Jimmy Kimmel all need to shut up and entertain. They’re not thought leaders. They’re court jesters pretending to be world leaders.”Jason Whitlock
Whitlock’s rationale: “Entertainers embrace Marxism and socialism. Let’s give them the system they prefer. Let’s take their tax revenue and invest in law enforcement and a criminal justice system focused on rehabilitation.”