Lebron James isn’t playing basketball right now, sitting things out with an ankle injury. But he’s still stirred up some things on social media of late. And one of his posts has the basketball star trending with some even calling for a boycott of his upcoming movie. There’s been a groundswell of opinions on the issue with James at something like the center of the debate around recent police shootings. While some support the icon, others are now calling to boycott the upcoming film, Space Jam: A New Legacy.
Things started last week in response to the shooting of Ma’Khia Bryant by police officers in Columbus, Ohio. There was significant backlash and public outcry over this incident after body-cam footage was released. The outcry and boiling tensions had Lebron James, who is from this area of Ohio, take to social media on Twitter where he has close to 50 million followers. He tweeted this:
There is clear frustration on the part of Lebron James here considering the circumstances and wanting to see some kind of accountability, in his eyes, for what has been happening with these incidents. This particular tweet did not stir up a great deal of controversy. But the next one did. In it, Lebron James tweeted a picture of a police officer with the words “YOU’RE NEXT” then an hourglass symbol, and then #ACCOUNTABILITY.
Some saw this second tweet as a direct threat by Lebron James and even possibly a suggestion to incite violence against police officers. The tweet was eventually taken down, but not before others had used it as the reason to boycott the star’s next film, Space Jam: A New Legacy. That part was started by Twitter user @JackPosobiec. His call to action was fairly simple:
The #BoycottSpaceJam2 hashtag began trending on Twitter late last week with a number of folks saying they planned to sit that movie out. There were calls from both sides though, some saying his response wasn’t a threat against police officers, but rather that the time was ticking on them being held accountable. Others thought it meant to specifically target the group. Whatever the intention, Twitter did not issue any restrictions on the account for Lebron James and he took the tweet in question down.
In response to the backlash and taking the tweet down off his feed, Lebron James issued something like a clarification and apology for his original tone. Whether it had the desired effect of reducing some of the fervor around his original comments remains to be seen. He had this to say:
Whether this tweet by Lebron James ends up negatively affecting the box office draw for Space Jam: A New Legacy isn’t clear yet. The film is a follow-up, though not a direct sequel, to the original Michael Jordan-led Space Jam and will be released over the summer in July. Other notables in the movie include Don Cheadle, Sonequa Martin-Green, and a number of NBA talents. It could begin a run of projects for Lebron James in the entertainment industry if successful. We will see if this social media backlash is enough to cause issues with the film’s release.