LeBron James scolded the media Wednesday for failing to ask him his feelings about an old, resurfaced photo from 1957 of Dallas Cowboys owner Jerry Jones at a desegregation protest at North Little Rock High School when Jones was a freshman at the school.
Jones said he was at the protest out of curiosity rather than arguing to keep his school segregated, but James wondered why he was not pressed on the topic.
Despite James’ criticism of the Cowboys owner, Jones responded by praising the NBA superstar.
Dallas Cowboys owner Jerry Jones and NBA player LeBron James on the red carpet at the fourth annual Two Kings Dinner hosted by Jay-Z and James at the W Dallas Feb. 13, 2010, in Dallas, Texas. (Gary Miller/FilmMagic)
“First of all, you have to hear me say how much I think of LeBron,” Jones told 105.3 The Fan. “I don’t know of anybody that I respect more. I don’t know of anybody that has taken every opportunity he’s had and maximized it. Not only [has he been] a great ambassador for sport, he has taken sports, he has taken his venues, and used those platforms …
“Certainly, he has influence, and just because of all of the above. His accomplishments, how he’s utilized his sport and how he’s utilized his platform. How we have done it. He has enhanced basketball, he’s made a lot of people a lot of money. I hope I have too.”
James asked reporters why they continued to ask him about Kyrie Irving’s antisemitic controversy but not the photo of Jones.
“When I watch Kyrie talk, and he says, ‘I know who I am, but I want to keep the same energy when we’re talking about my people and the things that we’ve been through,’ and that Jerry Jones photo is one of those moments that our people, Black people, have been through in America,” James said.
“And I feel like, as a Black man, as a Black athlete, as someone with power and a platform, when we do something wrong, or something that people don’t agree with, it’s on every single tabloid, every single news coverage, it’s on the bottom ticker. It’s asked about every single day.
LeBron James of the Miami Heat throws a football at AT and T Stadium before a game between the New York Giants and the Dallas Cowboys Sept. 8, 2013, in Arlington, Texas. (Ronald Martinez/Getty Images)
“But it seems like, to me, that the whole Jerry Jones situation, photo — and I know it was years and years ago, and we all make mistakes, I get it — but it seems like it’s just been buried under, like, ‘Oh, it happened. OK, we just move on.’ And I was just kind of disappointed that I haven’t received that question from you guys.”
The 1957 protest happened shortly after the Little Rock Nine controversy just a few miles away. North Little Rock was not officially integrated until 1964.
“That was, gosh, 65 years ago, and curious kid, I didn’t know at the time the monumental event that was going on,” Jones said Thanksgiving night. “I’m sure glad that we’re a long way from that. I am. That would remind me: Just continue to do everything we can to not have those kinds of things happen.”
Jerry Jones of the Dallas Cowboys talks with LeBron James of the Cleveland Cavs during the Cowboys 28-10 win over the Cleveland Browns at Cleveland Browns Stadium in Cleveland, Ohio. ( )
James was a fan of the Cowboys but said in October he ended his allegiance because of the team’s stance on kneeling during the national anthem.
“There was just a lot of things that was going on during when guys were kneeling, and guys were having freedom of speech,” James said. “They wanted to do it in a very peaceful manner. A lot of people in their front office and a lot of people that ran the organization was like, ‘If you do that around here, then you will never play for this franchise again.’ And I just didn’t think that was appropriate.”
Jones also praised James’ football talent from when he was in high school, saying James “would’ve made a great tight end.” James received an offer from the Cowboys during the NBA lockout in 2011.