NBA star LeBron James came under fire on Sunday evening when he could barely contain his laughter as singer Macy Gray performed a throaty rendition of The Star-Spangled Banner at a game in Cleveland.
LeBron, 34, was shown on camera sniggering and supressing laughter while Gray, an African American famous for her raspy singing voice, gave her performance of a slowed-down, thoughtful version of the National Anthem accompanied by the gentle strumming of an acoustic guitar-player.
The Los Angeles Lakers player was one of many who were given a reaction shot on camera during the anthem at the Rocket Mortgage Fieldhouse, but no-one else seemed to be in on the joke.
Macy Gray, 54, who is originally from Ohio has a raspy, throaty voice comparable to Billie Holiday and has enjoyed a successful singing career – bagging a Grammy Award in 2001 for her song ‘I Try’.
Twitter users were divided in their reaction to the video. While some were amused LeBron’s antics, others blasted him for being disrespectful and rude.
One user pointed out that LeBron should be supportive of a fellow African-American, particularly as he has been such a vocal advocate of the Black Lives Matter movement.
Lebron James is supposed to protect black women. He shouldn’t been an adult and kept a straight face while Macy Gray was performing. People felt comfortable to laugh at her style of singing because the camera cut to Lebron holding in his laughter smh
— Annalise Reads (@ddechelon) February 21, 2022
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At a Laker’s game in 2020 he and his teammates took the knee and raised a black power fist in the air wearing BLM t-shirts during the national anthem.
Another Twitter user seemed confused about what LeBron found so amusing about Gray’s singing, considering her style has been consistent throughout her career:
lebron is actually very weird for laughing at macy gray during the national anthem. that has been her tone forever, so what was funny? #NBAAllStar
— k. (@yoncescarter) February 21, 2022
But it wasn’t all bad news for James – who secured another All-Star victory on Sunday night with a turnaround jumper which put Team LeBron ahead of Team Durant 163-160.
His teammate Stephen Curry wowed fans with the best long-distance shooting record in All-Star basketball history.
Curry was two points off Anthony Davis’ record, with 16 3-pointers and 50 points scored in total. Had Curry not missed his final basket attempt, he would have smashed two records in the game.
Both talented players were honored in the halftime break, during which a ceremony celebrating the NBA’s 75th anniversary team ensued, which also honored the late basketball legend Kobe Bryant.
James said it was an amazing experience to be recognized alongside such respected and legendary players:
“Allen Iverson and Jason Kidd, Gary Payton, Michael Jordan, Magic Johnson, Oscar Robertson…
“To see those guys today and then be on stage with those guys – it’s just crazy”, he told AP.
“Every time they would announce another name, I didn’t even get an opportunity to like rejoice in the player that they had named. It was, like, Gary Payton. I was, like, wow.! Then J Kidd showed up, and then A.I. (Allen Iverson) showed up, and then it was D. Wade, C.P. (Chris Paul), and Steph (Curry). I was just tripped out.”
Stephen Curry echoed James’ gratitude. After the game he said winning the Kobe Bryant Trophy “has a very special meaning, honoring Kobe and Gigi, everybody that was lost two years ago.
“I’m very humbled, very blessed and I really appreciate it”.