It’s subtle but the message is clear
LeBron James, who led his hometown Cleveland Cavaliers to the NBA title this year, ending an epic championship drought for the city in the process, is Sports Illustrated’s Sportsperson of the Year. It’s the second such honor for James, who returned to Cleveland in 2014 after winning a couple of championships with the Miami Heat.
But SI points out that it wasn’t just James’ on-court performance that led to the recognition. His willingness to use his platform as one of the most famous athletes on the planet played perhaps an even bigger part.
When James meets the media before or after games, he is willing to weigh in on much more than what’s happening in his own locker room and around the NBA. ... Increasingly, it’s weightier topics such as Black Lives Matter, the need to help at-risk kids in Akron, or the presidential election.
That willingness to make a statement manifested itself on the SI cover itself, where James is wearing his heart on his sleeve, so to speak, in the form of a safety pin on the lapel his jacket.
Following Donald Trump’s election last month, many Americans took to wearing safety pins as a show of support to communities feeling threatened by a Trump presidency and those who support it—especially considering the reported increase in hate crimes in the days following the election.
And while there has been some criticism of the trend turning more into a fashion accessory than a statement of support, presenting himself as an ally to the various people and groups targeted in these attacks is in line with James’ prior actions. James criticized the idea that Trump’s comments regarding his treatment of women constituted “locker-room talk,” as he stumped for Hillary Clinton late in the presidential campaign, and he refused to stay at a Trump hotel during a recent road trip to New York—though he downplayed the idea that he was trying to make a political statement with his choice of lodging.
Still, James’ decision to don a safety pin on his SI cover absolutely is a statement of support—however subtle, however meaningful or not—for those who could use it.