Malcolm Brogdon: LeBron James ‘remolded’ what’s expected out of pro athletes
Indianapolis Pacers star Malcolm Brogdon believes LeBron James has broken the mold of what’s expected out of professional athletes through his vocal advocacy regarding social issues as well as his willingness to speak out against injustice, racial and otherwise.
Speaking this week with J. Michael of the Indianapolis Star, Brogdon laid out how James has had a significant impact on the way pro athletes feel free to speak freely on issues in the public sphere beyond the restrictive orbit of their particular sport.
“I don’t think the NBA back in the day was as progressive, as open to people speaking out, people being more than just an athlete,” Brogdon said. “Guys like LeBron have remolded what a professional athlete should look like. Having guys like that who are the best but also use their voice for the betterment of everyone changes the game.”
The way James has used his fame throughout his career to put a spotlight on societal issues has allowed players to be unafraid to do the same. This is evidenced in some manner by how Brogdon participated in peaceful protests in his hometown of Atlanta last week in response to how George Floyd, an African American man, died on May 25 while in Minneapolis police custody.
Malcolm Brogdon: "I got a grandfather who marched next to Dr. King in the 60's. He was amazing and he would be proud to see us all here."— Chris Grenham (@chrisgrenham) May 31, 2020
He added "Jaylen, man, has led this charge. I'm proud of him. We need more leaders." pic.twitter.com/3r3qsojB45
Malcolm Brogdon is walking and protesting with Jaylen Brown in Atlanta pic.twitter.com/5hZJluhggL— Tony East (@TEastNBA) May 30, 2020
James has of course been among the most outspoken athletes during his career when it comes to addressing issues like race and inequality. This sometimes makes him a target of criticism from those who disagree with his stances. However, that has never bothered the Lakers superstar, nor has it changed his approach to being a fearless advocate calling for change.
To wit, James was among the numerous athletes who came out to strongly criticize Drew Brees over the New Orleans Saints quarterback’s polarizing commentary about player protests during the national anthem.
WOW MAN!! . Is it still surprising at this point. Sure isn’t! You literally still don’t understand why Kap was kneeling on one knee?? Has absolute nothing to do with the disrespect of and our soldiers(men and women) who keep our land free. My father-in-law was one of those https://t.co/pvUWPmh4s8— LeBron James (@KingJames) June 3, 2020
Brees has since apologized for his remarks, albeit to some ongoing pushback and mixed reaction.
Interestingly enough, FOX News personality Laura Ingraham, who once told James to “shut up and dribble” and “keep the political commentary to yourself” over his criticism of Donald Trump in 2018, came to Brees’ defense this week. Ingraham stated Wednesday night that the pushback to Brees’ comments amounted to “totalitarian conduct” and “Stalinist” behavior.
Laura Ingraham to LeBron and KD: “Shut up and dribble!”— Complex Sports (@ComplexSports) June 4, 2020
To Drew Brees: “He’s allowed to have an opinion.” pic.twitter.com/PtEBHdPh7o
One could reasonably say that Ingraham’s arguable hypocrisy on such matters makes the case that James’ passionate social activism while addressing racial issues is needed now more than ever, especially in light of the events of the past few weeks.