LeBron James seems to be using the Jordan playbook. His actions appear to say, "Chinese people buy gym shoes too". Using that twisted logic it is unfortunate that there aren't many hardwood floors in Darfur. Maybe if Nike had more market share with the Darfur children and families that are being ripped apart we might have more heroic stance taken by LeBron.
The Christian Science Monitor recently reported that LeBron refused to be a witness against Darfur genocide. The Cleveland Cavaliers' Ira Newble recently wrote an open letter criticizing China's role in the Darfur genocide, urging fellow basketball players to pressure China to change its policy ahead of the 2008 Summer Olympics. "China cannot be a legitimate host to the premier international event in the sporting world -- the Summer Olympic Games -- while it remains complicit in the terrible suffering and destruction that continues to this day," the letter stated.
Only two of Newble's teammates refused to sign onto his letter: Damon Jones and LeBron James. James, one of the NBA's most recognizable faces, is a perennial all-star and was named a tri-captain of the 2006 USA World Championship Team.
In a Christian Science Monitor op-ed yesterday, New York University history professor Jonathan Zimmerman explained, "James said he didn't have enough information about the issue to take a stand. Mr. Jones wouldn't comment." But he also noted, "Jones has an endorsement contract with an up-and-coming Chinese shoe and apparel company. James has a $90 million deal with Nike, which has huge business interests in China."
China is Sudan's largest trading partner. Brookings Institution scholar Roberta Cohen wrote, "Were China to use even a small part of its leverage to call Sudan to account, it would go a long way toward saving lives in Sudan."
In July 2005, the Center for American Progress Action Fund teamed up with the Genocide Intervention Fund to call citizens to "be a witness" of the genocide and ask major television networks to report on the massacre. James now appears in Nike advertisements calling others to be a witness ... of his basketball stardom. Perhaps King James should read Luke 12:48 (...to whom much is given, much is expected...).
What do you think villagers? Is it unfair to expect more of atheletes in the spotlight than we expect of ourselves? Do we want our athletic heroes to have a conscience ... or just entertain us with their skills and commercials?