A Cincinnati bar owner in Delhi Township hits back at NBA superstar LeBron James for taking a proscriptive stand against local police regarding the fatal April 20 shooting of 16-year-old Ma’Khia Bryant in nearby Columbus. Jay Linneman, the owner of Linne’s Pub, is boycotting the NBA and will not be broadcasting future games until James is pulled out of the league. Considering the status of Lebron James, this probably means the bar will never show an NBA game ever again, or at least until James retires first.
The announcement was made on his private Facebook account. He writes: “If anyone wants to watch an NBA game, don’t come to Linnie’s Pub. We will not air them until Lebron James has been expelled from the NBA.” The 36-year-old Lakers small forward promptly responded, determined to communicate his dismay with acerbic ease. He writes, “Aww Damn! I was headed there to watch our game tonight and have a drink! Welp.”
Lebron James condemned the Columbus incident on Tuesday as an act of racial violence and called for greater “accountability.” He shared, “You’re next, #accountability” in all-caps, followed by an hourglass emoji and a photo of Nicholas Reardon, the officer responsible for Bryant’s death. The tweet has since been deleted. But he did attempt to clarify in a follow-up post:
Linneman is one of many outspoken conservatives lambasting celebrities — and by extension, athletes — for being vocal about their choice of politics. “They just need to play the game and that’s it,” he explains. “Their opinion doesn’t really matter. They’re using their position to push their opinions, and that’s just not right.” Linneman maintains his right to neutrality and asserts that if a sitting American president had made the same statement, there would surely be calls for impeachment.
Former NFL defensive end Marcellus Wiley echoes Linneman’s concerns and slammed James on his show Speak For Yourself on Fox Sports 1, saying, “Dog, you can’t do this. You can’t be that irresponsible if you’re LeBron James because you have that much power, and we all know when you get that type of power that responsibility comes with it.” Sports commentator Jason Whitlock was equally critical of The King on Twitter:
Former President Donald Trump also tossed his hat into the ring, adding, “LeBron James should focus on basketball rather than presiding over the destruction of the NBA, which has just recorded the lowest television RATINGS, by far, in the long and distinguished history of the League. His RACIST rants are divisive, nasty, insulting, and demeaning. He may be a great basketball player, but he is doing nothing to bring our Country together!”
LeBron James responded to the ensuing social media outrage by calling for compassion over hatred, and facts over emotion.
The thread comes fresh off the heels of another homicide case: the highly publicized indictment of former Minneapolis cop Derek Chauvin over the murder of George Floyd. James had previously tweeted about it, commending the historic win. A Minnesota court found the 45-year-old officer guilty of three charges — second-degree murder, third-degree murder, and manslaughter. Chauvin could be spending the next couple decades in prison. Meanwhile, over at LeBron James’s native state of Ohio, Ma’Khia Bryant’s death is currently under investigation.
This isn’t the only ban Lebron James has potentially faced in response to this issue. When he first sent out the now-deleted Tweet, there were some who thought this called for his upcoming Space Jam: A New Legacy to face ramifications as well. This flick is set to release this summer and is a follow-up/ successor to the Michael Jordan film from the 1990s. This has a similar theme of Lebron James leading a group of basketball players in a game with the fate of the universe at stake. It looks as silly as the first one but could begin putting the NBA superstar in a new, post-NBA role within Hollywood circles.
A bar setting out a ban unless a player is kicked out of the league (he won’t be) is different than a boycott of a potential blockbuster film of course. Both feel like publicity stunts in their own right though. Time will tell if there is more backlash against Lebron James for his comments or if these bans/ boycotts pick up any steam.