LeBron James Criticized for Reaction at Son's Basketball Game — Sparks Online Parenting Debate
Los Angeles Lakers star LeBron James turned heads while cheering on his son, Bronny, during his AAU basketball tournament championship game in Las Vegas.
But the proud dad’s aggressive cheering sparked an online debate about whether his sideline reactions were parent appropriate.
During the tournament, James was filmed doing pregame dunks with his son’s team and reacting exuberantly when one of his son’s teammates hit a dunk. Lebron was so excited, one of his shoes flew off during his animated reaction.
“Love being around my lil bros watching them playing the game they love,” James — who is also father to Bryce Maximus, 12, and Zhuri, 4 — tweeted in response to a video of his reaction that showed him storming onto the court. “But for real my shoe really jump off my foot in excitement as well on that play.”
But the celebrations seemed excessive to some critics — namely FOX Sports analyst Jason Whitlock — who heavily criticized James for his reactions, saying that the Lakers all-star had lost touch with what is considered socially acceptable behavior due to his A-list status.
“It’s inappropriate,” Whitlock said during a taping of Speak For Yourself. “It points to how much fame has inevitably changed LeBron over the past decade. Fame is a drug more potent and dangerous than cocaine. LeBron is a fame and social media junkie. He moved to Los Angeles looking for a better high.”
“In his mind, LeBron is making fatherhood cool and fun again. I disagree,” Whitlock continued. “LeBron is making a spectacle of himself, a circus of his son’s early playing days and using his son’s game as yet another platform to build the LeBron social-media brand.”
He then recalled one game where James’ mother, Gloria, yelled at Boston Celtics forward, Paul Pierce, compelling James — in the heat of the moment — to yell back at her, “sit yo ass down.”
“Making herself a spectacle during his game — Gloria James needed to control and conduct herself with (dignity). That’s what parents, no matter how famous, should do,” the sports reporter said. “They should not allow their thirst for fame to distract from or exaggerate their child’s performance. LeBron needs to follow the advice he gave his mom: Sit yo ass down.”
Despite Whitlock’s criticism, fellow athletes came to James’ defense.
“With so many fathers not supporting [their] kids we get upset because he is genuinely happy for his son!” Boston Celtics player Jayson Tatum tweeted. “I can’t wait till my son get older and I get to support him with whatever he wants to do!”
“Lebron has set the standard this era for all fathers and even more so for black fathers,” wrote Detroit Lions player Damon Harrison. “His son sees and feels the love and support from his dad… It’s never been seen on this level. They want to write the ‘his father wasn’t there’ story instead of this one. THIS is goals!”
Some Twitter users said they understood Whitlock’s stance that most parents wouldn’t be allowed to dunk and run onto the court during their children’s games — but disagreed with the fact that James was being a bad parent.
“I see what he trying to say but I disagree,” wrote one user. “Let that man be a father! It’s a lot of black men not being a father and a lot of black kids without a father to support them. We can’t move forward if we don’t support each other.”
One of Bronny’s teammates, Dior Johnson, also disagreed, highlighting the impact of James’ presence on the team.
“You guys take what this man does off the court for granted. My Dad has never been to ONE of my basketball games,” he wrote. “In fact, I haven’t even seen my father in 4 Years.”
“They will never know how much you impact my life,” Johnson continued in another post. “On and most importantly OFF this basketball court!”