National office supplies retailer Staples, which owns the naming rights to the arena that hosts the Los Angeles Lakers, refused to denounce Lakers star Lebron James’ targeted attempt to incite violence against a police officer who saved the life of a black teenage girl.
James has once more stirred up racialized political controversy. James has since deleted a tweet in which he posted a picture with the caption “YOU’RE NEXT #Accountability” in regard to the Columbus, Ohio police officer who on Tuesday appears to have protected a black teen from being stabbed by another by shooting the assailant as the teens fought.
Police officers convicted in the court of public opinion over applying force to black Americans have received death threats and in the past year cities across the nation have been looted, trashed, and burned in riots over such incidents.
A high-profile ESPN on-air employee who spoke on condition of anonymity told The Federalist in an interview that “it’s a very dangerous thing that the most prominent player in the sport [NBA] is doing something like this.”
“Is he backing [his tweet] up with statistics, or is it just based on emotion? It’s obviously based on an argument that is the popular argument to make. How is that not a threatening tweet?” The employee said. “This is where, you know, especially people in sports lose a lot of their fans. Kind of like this selective outrage. David Stern [the former NBA commissioner] must be spinning in his grave.”
Spokeswoman Julie Haff for the Republican Party of Los Angeles said James’s comments were “irresponsible and very counterproductive for any conversation related to policing or race relations.”
“Sending out a tweet like that is just very irresponsible,” Haff added.
Staples Center, which paid the Lakers $100 million for endorsement and naming rights in 1999, had no problem involving itself in other political controversies when it was bound to earn plaudits from the left. Since acquiring the arena’s rights, Staples has provided a venue for the Lakers, in addition to the Los Angeles Clippers and other minor league teams.
Data from 2014 showed earnings of $345 million for the arena, making it the number one venue in the United States by revenue. The Staples Center carried a price tag of $70.5 million in taxpayer money when it was built. The publicly financed stadium’s sponsor is clearly comfortable weighing in on political issues — but not in weighing in when its most lucrative client’s employee openly incites violence.
The Federalist emailed and called Staples after James deleted the tweet to understand if it agrees the NBA star was out of line. The company responded, “Staples stands behind our corporate values, which include respect for all people.”
Staples Stores tweeted its support for “black communities” during the summer of Black Lives Matter’s rioting and looting, but is unwilling to voice its support for the black community at a time a police officer ought to be commended for saving a black life. James perhaps realized his tweet was in poor taste, given his deletion, but one of the key corporations earning millions due to a contract with him has not.
“Staples stands with our Black colleagues, neighbors and friends,” the company said in a statement in June. “We do not and will never tolerate hatred, prejudice or discrimination. We are committed to supporting Black communities in both learning and working, and are donating funds and resources to both Black teachers and minority-owned small businesses. We must do better as a community and a nation, and Staples is committing to doing so.”
Staples stands with our Black colleagues, neighbors and friends. pic.twitter.com/s54PEZJhCo
— Staples Stores (@StaplesStores) June 5, 2020
The Federalist also contacted The Staples Center arena directly to receive a comment, but did not hear back after being transferred to a few different individuals over the phone.
The corporation’s silence instead of support for the black teenager who gets to live another day thanks to this police officer speaks volumes about its so-called position of being “committed to supporting Black communities.”
On Wednesday evening following the deletion of his tweet, James blamed “the entire system” and said he is “so desperate for more ACCOUNTABILITY.” The Lakers star essentially doubled down and declined to admit that his prior tweet calling out a police officer was unethical and with a high potential to cause violence.
I’m so damn tired of seeing Black people killed by police. I took the tweet down because its being used to create more hate -This isn’t about one officer. it’s about the entire system and they always use our words to create more racism. I am so desperate for more ACCOUNTABILITY
— LeBron James (@KingJames) April 21, 2021
“LeBron and others live to promote the victim narrative, so much so they will post without any verification if it meets their self-fulfilling narrative,” Brandon Tatum, a former police officer in Tuscon, Arizona, who hosts “The Officer Tatum” show on YouTube, told The Federalist. “This goes to show these celebrity athletes are out of touch. I believe the only reason he deleted it was because the obvious nature of self-defense could make him liable in a defamation lawsuit.”
The ESPN employee added that LeBron “is beholden to the league itself and to its players who are African American,” and that leftist virtue-signaling from corporations like the NBA “has backfired from a financial standpoint.”
“[The NBA] is taking cues from LeBron and ESPN wants to maintain a good relationship with LeBron,” the employee added.