Lakers superstar LeBron James believes there’s a race-based double standard in this country when it comes to the public’s expectations of professional athletes.
As part of a group discussion on the first episode of his unscripted HBO series “The Shop,” which premiered Tuesday night, James laid out a hypothetical situation in which a famous athlete responds negatively to a fan trying to take a photo of an athlete who’s on a family outing.
In this scenario, James said during the expletive-filled discussion, the public reaction would be different depending on the race of the athlete involved.
“We’re like, ‘Yo, get that […] phone out of my face. I’m with my family,’” James told the group that included Draymond Green of the Golden State Warriors, Candace Parker of the Sparks, Odell Beckham Jr. of the New York Giants and comedian Jon Stewart.
“If Aaron Rodgers or one of those guys say that [...], and they post it, somebody’s going to be like, ‘Hey you guys should respect Aaron Rodgers.’”
But, if the athlete is black, James said, “they’re going to say to us, ‘Oh, you guys are [...].’”
Beckham said he’s treated the same way.
“I had it happen the other day,” he said. “I didn’t want to take a picture. Like, I’m really in a rush, I’ve got to go. I get on Twitter, it’s like, … ‘Oh, he’s an [...], he didn’t want to take a picture.’”
He continued: “I really feel like a zoo animal. Like that’s where life’s gone for me. You know, you used to take your kids to the zoo and we used to be like, I want to see the lions or let’s go see the lions. And you go out there, and the lions are laid out. You know what I mean? And it’s like, why aren’t they doing lion stuff?
“I’ve got people who call out, ‘Odell! Dance!’ like, I’m a show monkey or something. Like I’m a puppet, you know what I mean? And it’s like to me, that doesn’t feel good, but it’s like, damn, that’s what life became.”