LeBron James addressed the unearthed high school photo of Dallas Cowboys owner Jerry Jones during a desegregation confrontation in 1957 and asked why the press wasn’t covering the photograph with the “same energy” as the Kyrie Irving controversy during a postgame presser Wednesday.
“I got one question for you guys before you guys leave. I was thinking when I was on my way over here, 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.”
Prior to the Thanksgiving Day football game between the Cowboys and the New York Giants, the Washington Post unearthed the photo of a 14-year-old Jones standing among (or outside, as Jones contended last Thursday) a mob of white students that were blocking six Black students from entering the doors of North Little Rock High School in 1957, three years after segregation in schools ended with the U.S. Supreme Court’s Brown v. Board of Education decision.
A week after the photo was unearthed, James — who, as a former teammate of Irving’s, faced questions about and criticized Irving’s promotion of an antisemitic film — wondered why reporters hadn’t asked for his take on the Jones situation, as well as why the Jones photograph hasn’t been covered in the press with the same tenacity as Irving’s tweet.
“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,” James said. “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.”
When asked about the photo last week, Jones said, “I didn’t know at the time the monumental event really that was going on. I’m sure glad that we’re a long way from that. I am. That would remind me [to] just continue to do everything we can to not have those kinds of things happen.”
Before the Associated Press photo was even unearthed — it was Jones himself who told an Arkansas historian that he was in the photo, NBC Dallas reported — Jones previously admitted in 2010 that he was present during the North Little Rock High School confrontation, but that he was an observer and not a participant. “The people that were bein’ that way, that literally, physically, with all that gesturin’, with all that, weren’t even students at all,” Jones said at that time (via the Guardian). Jones reiterated last week that he was merely a “curious kid.”
James — a former Cowboys fan who stopped rooting for the team due to Jones’ response to the Colin Kaepernick protests — continued Wednesday, “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.”