Kyrie Irving had NBA fans and pundits up in arms last week after he suggested that NBA players should hold off from returning to the court in light of the recent protests against racial injustice. Irving's intentions were certainly noble as he was urging his fellow players to take a stand and acknowledge that some things are much bigger than sports. Simply put, Irving would prefer to fight for justice than an NBA championship, and there is absolutely nothing wrong with that.
The Brooklyn Nets star was backed up by players like Dwight Howard, Avery Bradley, and even Lou Williams of the Los Angeles Clippers. While many stars have expressed opposition to Irving's opinion, there is one voice that towers above the rest. Of course, that voice is LeBron James.
LeBron has embedded himself in activism over the years and isn't afraid to speak out about social issues. With this in mind, one would think James would be on board with Kyrie. Well, this has proven not to be the case as it has been reported that behind closed doors, LeBron stated that he thinks it would be more beneficial to use the NBA's platform to speak up. In LeBron's eyes, he can bring much more awareness to social causes by participating in games and voicing his opinions while millions of people are watching.
The Los Angeles Lakers superstar makes a great point here although some feel like he is only saying this because his team is in a great position to win a title, and he wants to help add to his legacy. Patrick Beverley of the Clippers recently echoed this sentiment on Twitter when he said: "Hoopers say what y’all want. If @KingJames said he hooping. We all hooping. Not Personal only BUSINESS???????????? ???? #StayWoke." Essentially, Beverley is suggesting that LeBron is the be-all, end-all voice in the NBA.
Beverley's tweet eventually went viral and sparked a debate surrounding whether or not LeBron James truly runs the NBA. Some fans felt as though the assertion was simply preposterous while others seemed convinced that James has more pull than the commissioners and the owners combined. While this little conspiracy theory is fun on the surface, it's simply too hamfisted and far-fetched to even be remotely true.
Okay, sure, LeBron James is 100 percent the face of the league. This is an indisputable fact that I think we can all agree on. When LeBron was drafted in 2003, he was seen as the next big replacement to Michael Jordan and for the most part, he lived up to those expectations. He quickly became the league's most popular player and his influence around the NBA started to grow at an exponential rate. However, this is not to say that he is the final decision-maker when it comes to every little NBA policy.
If LeBron was truly the one running the show, the league wouldn't have a salary cap, and he would be on a Super Team with about five MVPs. Every single rule in the NBA would cater to him and him only. If there is anything we have realized over the years, this is simply not the case and his NBA Finals record is living proof of that. One could also point to the fact that Adam Silver and the 30 NBA owners didn't consult with any star players or the NBPA when coming up with rules for the NBA bubble city in Orlando. In fact, the only team that allowed its players to be a part of the final vote was the Portland Trail Blazers, a team that LeBron has nothing to do with.
Ezra Shaw/Getty ImagesWhen it comes to the idea that LeBron runs the league, fans love to point out the fact that his agent, Rich Paul, has become very powerful and influential in league circles. Some even go so far as to say that Paul is recruiting players to Klutch Sports so that they can team up with LeBron. Once again, this is a complete obfuscation of what's happening. Apart from Anthony Davis, no other star player has ever joined Klutch Sports, only to link up with LeBron later on. Draymond Green and Ben Simmons are arguably two of Paul's biggest clients and any idea of them going to the Lakers are simply too far-fetched to even entertain. Sure, Paul and James have influence, but they aren't powerful enough to force certain players to join teams they otherwise wouldn't have given a second thought to.
It's also important to mention the owners in all of this. Quite frankly, they would never allow Adam Silver to kowtow to every single one of LeBron's demands. LeBron can get the players on his side and unite people, he can also bring in more money than any other athlete in the league. However, the owners and the commissioner have the final say. If LeBron came out and said he wasn't going to play the rest of the season, NBA owners and Silver would vote to carry on with the season anyway. Why? Because there would be too much money at stake to outright cancel everything. Not to mention, there would still be plenty of players willing to compete for a championship.
When it comes down to it, LeBron is an easy scapegoat. His status and success have made him a target for these kinds of conspiracies that don't do anything except divide fans, players, and executives alike. If LeBron really did run the NBA, it would be a much different league than we have now. It wouldn't be competitive and it would be to the benefit of one man and one team. The fact that this isn't the case should be everything you need to know.