Basketball star LeBron James has apologised after sharing a lyric about “Jewish money” on social media – saying he thought it was a compliment.
James was called out over the lyric – which comes from a song by US rapper 21 Savage – after he shared it with his 45.8m followers on Instagram.
US journalist Darren Rovell was among those drawing attention to the post, saying it was “offensive”.
But James said it was not his intent “to hurt anyone” with Saturday’s post.
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“Apologies, for sure, if I offended anyone,” he told sports channel ESPN on Sunday. “That’s not why I chose to share that lyric. I always [post lyrics]. That’s what I do. I ride in my car, I listen to great music, and that was the byproduct of it.
“So I actually thought it was a compliment, and obviously it wasn’t through the lens of a lot of people.”
Many of his fans had come out in support of James, who joined the Los Angeles Lakers in July on a four-year deal worth $154m (£116m).
But Rovell took to Instagram himself to detail exactly why it was offensive.
Yesterday, I saw that LeBron James posted this on Instagram. He was quoting lyrics from @21savage. “Getting that Jewish money” might be seen as a compliment, as in Jews disproportionate to their population (1.4% of the US), on average, have a significant place among the nation’s most wealthy individuals. The issue is that “Jewish money” is actually a derogatory term that, throughout the history of the Jews, has led to hate. It contributed to hate by the Nazis and along with the long nose in cartoons, it contributed to a stereotype that Jews would do anything for money. I spent all day yesterday battling people on Twitter about why the lyrics were not OK and why quoting the lyrics didn’t absolve LeBron from responsibility. As I expected, last night LeBron told @davemcten he was apologizing if he offended anyone. It was an uphill battle yesterday, but LeBron knows simply acknowledging a mistake goes a long way into helping people understand the other side of “the coin.”
A post shared by Darren Rovell (@darrenrovell) on Dec 24, 2018 at 4:58am PST
However, he did praise the star for apologising.
“One of the reasons he’s the off-the-court star he is is because he has an impressive emotional intelligence who, considering his time in social media age, has made so few mistakes,” Rovell tweeted.
But this was not the only controversial comment the 33-year-old sportsman has made in recent days.
He described the owners of American football’s NFL as “a bunch of old white men” who “got that slave mentality” during his HBO show The Shop on Friday.