LeBron James expressed disappointment that reporters didn't ask him about an old photo of Jerry Jones.
A 1957 photo shows a teenaged Jones on the steps of a segregated high school in Arkansas, where white students stopped Black students from entering.
James noted the contrast between the lack of questions about Jones to the frequent questions he fielded about Kyrie Irving's sharing an anti-Semitic film on social media.
LeBron James on Wednesday criticized reporters for not asking him about a 1957 photo of Jerry Jones at a segregated high school.
The photo, published in The Washington Post in a profile of Jones' poor record of hiring Black coaches, shows Jones in a crowd, watching as some white students blocked six Black students from entering North Little Rock High in an attempt to integrate the high school.
Jones can be seen toward the back of the crowd, looking on at the confrontation happening at the entrance of the school. According to The Washington Post, racial slurs were shouted at the Black students and a Black effigy was hung from a lamppost near the high school. The Black students were stopped from entering. The event took place on the same day as the Little Rock Nine entered Little Rock Central High, led by federal forces.
At the end of his media session following the Los Angeles Lakers' 128-109 win over the Portland Trail Blazers, James expressed disappointment that reporters didn't ask him about the photo.
"I was wondering why I haven't gotten a question from you guys about the Jerry Jones photo," James said. "But when the Kyrie [Irving] thing was going on, you guys were quick to ask us questions about that."
Irving was suspended for a total of eight games by the Brooklyn Nets for sharing a film with anti-Semitic material to his social media, then refusing to disavow anti-Semitism. James had called Irving's actions hurtful, but later on said Irving should be playing, saying the steps the Nets made Irving go through to return to the court — such as meeting with Jewish leaders — were too much.
"When I watch Kyrie talk and he says, 'I know who I am, but I want to keep the same energy when we're talking about my people and the things that we've been through,' and that Jerry Jones photo is one of those moments that our people, Black people, have been through in America. And I feel like as a Black man, as a Black athlete, as someone with power and a platform, when we do something wrong, or something that people don't agree with, it's on every single tabloid, every single news coverage, it's on the bottom ticker. It's asked about every single day.
"But it seems like to me that the whole Jerry Jones situation, photo -- and I know it was years and years ago and we all make mistakes, I get it -- but it seems like it's just been buried under, like, 'Oh, it happened. OK, we just move on.' And I was just kind of disappointed that I haven't received that question from you guys."
James finished his media sessions without taking more questions or getting a response from reporters.
Jones told The Post that he had showed up to the school out of curiosity, despite his football coach telling players not to go.
"I don't know that I or anybody anticipated or had a background of knowing … what was involved. It was more a curious thing," he said.
Jones, 80, told reporters when asked about the photo that he is "sure glad that we're a long way from that [era]."
James grew up a Cowboys fan but recently said on an Instagram Live stream that he stopped rooting for them because of Jones' stance on protests during the national anthem.
"The organization was like, 'If you do that around here, then you will never play for this franchise again,'" James said on Instagram. "I just didn't think that was appropriate."
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