American basketball star LeBron James has apologized for posting controversial song lyrics with the phrase “getting that Jewish money” on Instagram, where he boasts over 45 million followers.
“We been getting that Jewish Money, Everything is kosher,” the Los Angeles Lakers forward posted in an Instagram story over the weekend, reciting lyrics from rapper 21 Savages’ song “asmr” while wearing a Lakers sweatshirt.
Darren Rovell, a sports business analyst who formerly worked for ESPN, called attention to the post’s problematic use of stereotypes painting Jewish people as wealthy and tightfisted.
“Surprised LeBron, who makes very few mistakes, put this out. Does quoting lyrics from a song absolve the person quoting from the responsibility behind the words?” Rovell tweeted. “I’d argue no, especially with a following of 45 million.”
Speaking to ESPN following the Lakers’ Sunday loss to the Memphis Grizzlies, Jamessaid “it definitely was not the intent, obviously, to hurt anybody.”
“Apologies, for sure, if I offended anyone,” the 33-year-old basketball great said. “That’s not why I chose to share that lyric,” adding that he regularly posts song lyrics.
“That’s what I do. I ride in my car, I listen to great music, and that was the by-product of it,” he continued. “So I actually thought it was a compliment, and obviously it wasn’t through the lens of a lot of people. My apologies.”
The NBA does not plan to fine James over the post, ESPN said.
James — who regularly speaks out on politics and sociocultural issues — also made waves over the weekend for comparing the US professional basketball and football leagues.
“In the NFL they got a bunch of old white men owning teams and they got that slave mentality,” James said during Friday’s episode of his HBO show “The Shop.”
He then lauded the NBA’s commissioner Adam Silver for letting players express themselves.
“It doesn’t even matter if Adam agrees with what we are saying, he at least wants to hear us out,” James said.
“As long as we are doing it in a very educational, nonviolent way, then he’s absolutely okay with it.”
The NFL in recent years has grappled with protests from players kneeling during the playing of the US national anthem, as part of movement calling attention to issues of racial injustice and social inequality.