LeBron James supports the totalitarians in China. James believes Houston Rockets General Manager Daryl Morey “was either misinformed or not really educated on the situation,” when he tweeted support of those fighting for civil liberties in Hong Kong.
James chastised Morey:
There are ramifications for the negative that can happen when you’re not thinking about others, when you only think about yourself. So many people could have been harmed, not only financially but physically, emotionally, spiritually.
Reportedly, to appease China, James lobbied NBA Commissioner Silver to discipline Morey.
James’ Hong Kong rhetoric is not the first-time sports figures blamed the victims of a totalitarian government for causing trouble. The infamous Avery Brundage did so as well.
Avery Brundage was the head of the American Olympic Committee (AOC) in the 1930s when Nazi persecution of the Jews led to strong pressure to boycott the 1936 Berlin Olympics. If America withdrew its team, other nations would follow, and the games would collapse.
In her journal article “Avery Brundage and American Participation in the 1936 Olympic Games,” Carolyn Marvin documents how, “in spite of considerable organized public opinion in support of a boycott, the views of the American Olympic Committee, the most powerful defender of Olympic business as usual, prevailed.”
Brundage believed those alarmed by Nazi Germany were influenced by the “misguided politics of Eastern liberals in league with Jewish interest groups.”
Anti-Semites were eager to believe Nazi propaganda. The president of the International Amateur Athletic Federation, wrote Brundage that Jews were to blame for their persecution by the Nazis: “Jews have taken a too prominent position in certain branches of life and have – as the Jews very often do when they get in the majority – misused their positions.” In reality, when Hitler came to power in 1933, Jews made up less than 1 percent of the German population.
Brundage, writing to the British Olympic Association, said, “My own view is that we are pandering too much to the Jews!”
Brundage thought he could use anti-Semitism to raise money. In a letter to his AOC colleagues, he wrote “the fact that the Jews are against us will arouse interest among thousands of people who have never subscribed before, if they are properly approached.”
LeBron James’ actions parallel Brundage’s, leading one to wonder if James believes the NBA can gain support from the growing number of communists and socialists in America. If so, James should think again. Already protests against James are cropping up at NBA games.
In 1935 Jews were being assaulted in German streets, and the new Nuremberg Laws stripped Jews of their citizenship. Boycott pressure in America (and not just from Jews) became more intense.
Like James denouncing those who support the Hong Kong protestors, Brundage had misplaced anger toward those calling for an Olympic boycott. Brundage wrote, “These attacks [calls for boycotts] by the enemies of sport, for that is what they are, are beginning to make me angry.”
Brundage received a letter from inside Nazi Germany beseeching him to use his position to help victims of Hitler:
Under the enormous Nazi terror our work is difficult and we therefore beg you to help us in our task to prevent Hitler and his complices [sic] to get ready for another war. You are not included in the terror and can use your liberty to see the prisons and concentration camps…. Tell your countrymen what you see there.
Such pleas fell on deaf ears. Brundage continued to use his “liberty” to blame Jews and to assure others that alarming reports from Germany were false: “Judging Germany from distorted sensational news articles and propaganda is quite different inspecting the country as it is.” Likewise, James is using his liberty to tell others they are “misinformed.”
Before we leave this shameful episode in America’s past, there is one part of the story that James should heed.
“Swish,” “top of the key,” and “in the lane,” now vernacular basketball terms, were invented by legendary broadcaster Marty Glickman. Glickman did much to build professional basketball’s popularity, indirectly helping James achieve great wealth.
Before he was a broadcaster, Glickman was an All-American football player and track star at Syracuse University.
Glickman was also a member of the 1936 U.S. Olympic team who, with his teammates, was poised to win a gold medal in the 400-meter relay race. At the last minute, so as not to put Hitler in the position of witnessing the triumph of Jewish athletes, Brundage and his fellow Nazi sympathizer Dean Cromwell scratched Glickman and his fellow Jewish teammate Sam Stoller from the race.
To reward Brundage, Hitler awarded the contract to build the new German embassy in Washington to Brundage’s construction company.
Brundage and James share the same hateful sentiment: get the pesky Jews and get the pesky residents of Hong Kong out of the way and get back to business as usual.
James’ potential earnings from Nike endorsements alone could exceed $1 billion, so it’s unlikely he’ll be apologizing for aiding the enemies of freedom. Today James may be popular and wealthy; but like Brundage, he will find himself on the wrong side of history.
[Image Credit: Wikipedia Commons-Keith Allison, CC BY-SA 2.0]