As one of the NBA’s most expressive and politically active players, LeBron James’ shoes are a communication medium. For Sunday night’s away game against the Washington Wizards, James opted to wear a special pair of LeBron 15s, one white on his left foot and a black sneaker on his other foot. Both shoes also featured the word EQUALITY inscribed on the back on the back in gold stitching.
Unlike Kyrie Irving’s Kyrie 4s, it didn’t take a cryptographer to decipher the intent of James’ shoes because he was forthright after the Cavs win, about the statement he was making with his footwear.
“We all know where we are right now, and we know who is at the helm here,” James said when asked about his choice of footwear after the Cavaliers’ 106-99 win . “Us as Americans, no matter the skin color, no matter the race, no matter who you are, I think we all have to understand that having equal rights and being able to stand for something and speak for something and keeping the conversation going [is important].
“Obviously, I’ve been very outspoken and well-spoken about the situation that’s going on at the helm here, and we’re not going to let one person dictate us, us as Americans, how beautiful and how powerful we are as a people. Equality is all about understanding our rights, understanding what we stand for and how powerful we are as men and women, black or white or Hispanic. It doesn’t matter your race, whatever the case may be, this is a beautiful country, and we’re never going to let one person dictate how beautiful and how powerful we are.”
James’ footwear statement wasn’t as the equivalent of Stevie Wonder and Paul McCartney singing Ebony and Ivory. However, it’s only the most recent example of James eloquently repudiating the president for his intolerance of marginalized groups.
In case it wasn’t apparent through context clues, James’ jab was aimed at President Donald Trump. James has previously pulled no punches in addressing his immense dissatisfaction with Trump. In September, he referred to Trump as a “bum” and blasted him for failing to properly utilize the pulpit of the presidency.
James’ refusal to stay at the SoHo Trump Hotel was also a catalyst for the company that owns the lower Manhattan hotel ending its branding deal with The Trump Organization.
In October, James also wore black LeBron 15 EQUALITY PEs (“player exclusives”) before the Cavaliers’ season-opener against Boston. At the time, James took issue with Trump’s penchant for targeting black athletes through social media, as well as his equivocation of the violence in Charlottesville, his decision to call NFL players sons of bitches and a litany of his heavy-handed harangues against minorities over the last two years.
Nike launched its EQUALITY campaign earlier this year to champion causes that reflect its values, while James’ footwear was his way of following through on a promise he made in October to use his platform as a megaphone for issues such as racial injustice.
“I just wanted to keep the conversation going,” James told ESPN in October after he wore the black LeBron1 Equality PEs against the Celtics. “We know what we’re going through. We know what we went through as a nation, as a world. So I had an opportunity to use a platform for the greater good and keep the conversation going. Why not?”
Ultimately, James wound up removing his LeBron 15s after going 4-for-12 through the first two frames. In the second half, James shot a nearly identical 4-of-11 from the field, but recorded his third straight triple double.
“I didn’t play well in the first half, and I’m very superstitious, so I took them off,” James explained after his triple double against the Wizards. “I didn’t play well in the second half, either, so if there was a third half, I would have took those off.”
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