In an interview with CNN, LeBron James and his manager/CEO of his marketing company, LRMR, Maverick Carter, pointed to race as a factor in how the media/public reacted to ESPN's 'The Decision.'
Anchor and special correspondent for CNN, Soledad O'Brien, proposed the question.
"Do you think there's a role that race plays in [The Decision] this?"
James' and Carter's responses, respectively.
James: "I think so at times. It's always, you know, a race factor."
Carter: "It definitely played a role in some of the stuff coming out of the media, things that were written for sure."
The race card is always a tough subject. The validity of hidden racism in cases like these can be examined over and over again with no results. Still, I find agreeing with the comments difficult.
The reality of the "The Decision" is that it climbs the list of greatest public relations disasters in this history of sports, possibly to the top. Brett Favre has encountered the kind of abuse that the media/public can deal out, and that was merely annoyance for Favre making us wait for him every year.
The weight of a struggling city laid in James' hands, and he took the worst route possible to put them down and bestow a disgusted feeling around the NBA. But was it all James' fault?
In the interview, Carter went on to discuss the $3 million generated by "The Decision" that was donated to the Boys & Girls Club of America that seemed to have been forgotten in the public reaction to the production.
"We own the advertising time. We went out and sold it to brands and we took every time and donated it to charity."
This explanation, although well intentioned, is completely ludicrous. Carter, a college dropout who took much of James' business operations at age 22, is clearly the backbone driving some of James' key decisions (no pun intended).
An alleged story that popped up in July involving a woman named Vaneisha Robinson could paint a small image of Carter. Robinson found a pendant at a lawn sale for $5 thinking it was just fake jewelry. Evidently, it was worth much more than that, $10,000 in fact.
According to WEWS 5 Ohio, the rest of the story was as follows:
On Wednesday, Robinson said she got a phone call that turned her dream into a nightmare. Robinson said it was Katherine L. Powers, the mother of Maverick O. Carter. Carter is the CEO of LeBron James' marketing company, LRMR.
"[Powers] said that LeBron James was at her house and they wanted me to come over there. They were going to make me an offer that I couldn't refuse," Robinson said.
It turned out the one-of-a-kind pendant belongs to Carter, who claims it was stolen. Robinson said she and her mother went to the Wadsworth house Carter shares with his mother, believing James was going to buy the pendant and give it back to Carter.
"When I got there, LeBron James was not there. It was about eight or nine other people there," Robinson said. "They pretty much accused me, they threatened me, and they used their authority to they (sic) best ability to get the pendant in their possession."
Robinson said she and her mother drove to Carter's house in the 500 block of Caledonia Drive in her mother's pickup truck.
"They blocked her truck in the driveway. They told us that we weren't going anywhere until they got that pendant. I was scared for my life," she said.
James was still a young 20 when he joined up with Carter, who has helped James turn his corporation into a billion dollar global brand (as if it was that hard), but it is James' image that is suffering. "The Decision" was so terribly miscalculated, it seems that the racism claim turns into a scapegoat.
It is not fair to pin all the blame on Carter as James is his own person, but shouldn't a superstar with the world constantly breathing down his neck have some better guidance? Like professional guidance?
It seems only a matter of time that another incident involving Mr. Carter potentially harms James' reputation. The only reason he is still with James is obviously because of the two's friendship. But as James has constantly reiterated, this is a business, and James' business is his image.