National Basketball Association (NBA) star and billionaire LeBron James is facing backlash after fans claimed he appeared to ignore or disrespect the National Anthem as he sat down during it at his son’s college basketball game on Tuesday.
Video footage released on social media shows the NBA star entering the arena and sitting down while the National Anthem was playing and the rest of the audience was standing.
“LeBron James casually walks into the basketball arena while the National Anthem is playing and takes a seat,” Collin Rugg, co-owner of Trending Politics, tweeted. “Zero respect for the country that gave him the opportunity to be a basketball star. Zero respect for the country that allowed him to become a billionaire. Zero respect for the men and women who defend our country so he can live his life. Shameful.”
According to Fox News, the Los Angeles Lakers NBA star, whose net worth was estimated in 2022 at $1 billion, attended Tuesday’s college basketball game at the Galen Center in order to watch Bronny, his son, participate in his first college game of basketball since he suffered cardiac arrest during the summer.
Fox News reported that the video clip, which only featured 34 seconds of the National Anthem, quickly circulated across social media, with over 3.9 million views on X in less than 24 hours. By Thursday, the video was viewed by over 6.5 million X users.
While most of the comments on the video were written in disapproval or outrage toward the NBA star’s alleged disrespect toward the National Anthem, O.C. Register reporter Luca Evans, who recorded the video, claimed that James has repeatedly entered the arena during the National Anthem in order to avoid causing “a massive stir.”
Sharing Rugg’s X post, Evans wrote, “As the reporter who took this video, this is gross and completely mischaracterizes the situation. LeBron has done this for YEARS in Bronny’s time at Sierra Canyon. It’s objectively the best time to walk in so he doesn’t cause a massive stir. Stop it.”
According to The Daily Wire, James generated criticism last year for comments made regarding Women’s National Basketball Association (WNBA) star Brittney Griner, who was detained by Russia.
“Now, how can she feel like America has her back?” James asked at the time. “I would be feeling like, ‘Do I even want to go back to America?'”
James also has been vocal about his support for Black Lives Matter, claiming that Black Lives Matter is a “lifestyle,” not a movement.
“It’s just heartbreaking,” James said in 2020. “You guys don’t understand. Unless you’re a person of color, you guys don’t understand. I understand you might feel for us. But you will never truly understand what it is to be black in America.”
According to Fox News, James participated in the kneeling protests during the National Anthem in 2020 and wore Black Lives Matter shirts in protest of the controversial death of George Floyd and the shooting of Jacob Blake. However, Fox News reported that James has not participated in kneeling protests against the National Anthem since 2020.