LeBron James has always wanted to be the NBA’s GOAT both on the court and off it. In both categories — as a player and as a savvy marketer and steward of his own brand — his only real competition is Michael Jordan.
There is, however, one major difference. In his heyday, Jordan scrupulously avoided politics. As he memorably said in 1990, when asked if he would endorse a Black Democratic candidate for U.S. Senate in North Carolina: “Republicans buy sneakers, too.”
By contrast, James is the model of the modern athlete — lending his name to marketing campaigns (for, among other things, pizza, headphones and video games) and making personal statements on various political and cultural issues. Over the last few years, James has supported Black Lives Matter, squabbled with former President Donald Trump and Fox News anchors, and promoted voter registration.