Whitlock: LeBron James is Jethro Bodine, basketball’s Beverly Hillbilly

 Maybe LeBron James is right about Brittney Griner, the WNBA player currently detained inside a Russian jail cell.

Maybe the 6-foot-8 female basketball player feels every bit as entitled as her NBA peers. Maybe Griner is just as delusional and stupid as King James.

Athletic prowess undermines self-awareness and intellectual evolution. American culture baits the physically gifted to develop their bodies and ignore their minds.

James’ rewards have all been tied to his ability to shoot a basketball. That ability made him rich beyond his wildest dreams and provided him with an audience for his “intellectual” pontifications. If LeBron couldn’t shoot and dribble, he would have 50 to 75 social media followers and work the overnight shift at McDonald’s.

He did not earn his public platforms in the intellectual Olympics. They’re the spoils of America’s athletic idolatry. Those spoils foment entitlement and delusion.

That’s why James suggested Griner should question returning to America when she’s released from a Russian prison. 

“How can she feel like America has her back?” James said on his TV show, "The Shop." “I would be feeling like, ‘Do I even want to go back to America?’”

James assumes Griner shares his delusion and entitlement. She’s tall, athletic, and famous. At age 31, she apparently attempted to enter a foreign country with a small amount of an illegal drug. Russian authorities arrested her approximately 150 days ago. She’s in the midst of a Russian show trial that could incarcerate her for the next 10 years. 

LeBron James blames America for her predicament.

Of course he does. Griner is black. Anything bad that happens to black people anywhere on the planet is the fault of America and Trump supporters. Anything good that happens to black people is credited to the grace, mercy, sacrifice, and blood of white liberals and their only begotten son, Barack Obama.

In King James’ mind, Brittney Griner is a victim of America’s white supremacy, affinity for black oppression, and misogyny. What other plausible explanation is there for Russian authorities to arrest and detain a high-profile black women’s basketball player?

Vladamir Putin’s regime handcuffed Griner at the behest of Donald Trump. That’s it.

OK, what explains the more than 40 other American citizens wrongfully detained by foreign governments across the globe? What explains the six months Danny Fenster, an American journalist, spent locked inside a prison in Burma? Fenster is white. “60 Minutes” did a segment on Fenster’s imprisonment in February. The CBS news magazine explained that China wrongfully incarcerates more Americans than any other country.

LeBron James won’t touch that fact. Or maybe he blames America for China detaining Americans. That’s it. It’s George Washington’s fault.

Paul Whelan, a white former Marine, has been incarcerated in Russia for four years. He was sentenced to a 16-year sentence for espionage. Unlike Griner, Whelan refused to plead guilty. It is believed that Russia is holding him as a means to negotiate a prisoner swap with the United States.

Should the U.S. government prioritize Brittney Griner’s release ahead of Whelan’s? And, if so, why? Because she’s tall and black and can play basketball? Should America immediately cut a deal to bring Griner home?

That could potentially jeopardize the safety of all Americans traveling abroad in countries hostile to the American government.

James’ lack of sophistication is embarrassing. China disappears and re-educates its own celebrities who stray from the government-approved narrative. James and other NBA players love to visit China to hawk athletic apparel and gym shoes. If the U.S. bends over to bring home Brittney, one of James’ NBA peers or a low-level male player who plays overseas might be the next U.S. citizen wrongfully detained.

But the entitled can’t see beyond themselves. They’re narcissists. They never assess their own culpability or responsibility. Mix narcissism and entitlement with a Marxist and victimhood mentality, and James’ comments about Griner make perfect sense.

America did it. America mistreated Brittney Griner in Russia. Why would she want to return to the freest country on the planet? She should relocate to Saudi Arabia or some country that knows how to treat black women. Maybe she should move to West Africa, where the people once sold each other into slavery. I’m sure China would treat Brittney like a queen.

Tuesday, after TMZ brought attention to James’ comments about Griner and America, the NBA superstar clarified his comments on Twitter.

“My comments on ‘The Shop’ regarding Brittney Griner wasn’t knocking our beautiful country. I was simply saying how she’s probably feeling emotionally along with so many other emotions, thoughts, etc inside that cage she’s been in for over 100+ days! Long story short #BringHerHome”

Any chance LeBron could just limit his conversation to basketball? He knows basketball. He’s an expert on athletics. He has no understanding of how the world works for ordinary people.

After he claimed a vandal spray-painted a racial slur on his California mansion, he analogized himself to Emmett Till’s mother. Till was a 14-year-old black boy murdered in Mississippi in 1955. His mother held an open-casket funeral so people could see how badly beaten her son was.

LeBron James never saw the alleged spray paint on his second home. He lived in Cleveland at the time and was in the Bay area for the NBA Finals when he claimed vandals put graffiti on his home. He said his servants removed the graffiti before police could investigate.

LeBron James is the modern-day Jethro Bodine. Years ago Nike discovered an unlimited supply of athleticism buried in the womb of a single mother in Akron, Ohio. LeBron is the Beverly Hillbilly.

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