Racial Semiotics Pt. 24116
Today, the all-seeing eye of Bethlehem Shoals put this gem "on blast" (to use a phrase from the younger generation) over at The Baseline. Because this moment is vintage FD "racial semiotics," it requires a full reprinting here, and a close reading:
Wizards swingman Mike Miller wore James' Nike shoes to practice and was told by teammate DeShawn Stevenson, "We don't wear these around here."
James said he didn't care. "Mike is a good friend of mine," he said. "He named his son after my best friend, Maverick (Carter). We have a good history."
James said Miller should lace up his sneakers, though. "For an unathletic white guy, these are the best shoes to wear," James said.
A few things of note:
(1) Mike Miller and LeBron James are very good friends. This is strange. Hardly as strange as, say, the Tyronn Lue-Kevin Garnett bond of brothers, but it is strange in a "how the f did they meet in the first place" way (Team USA, presumably). This also leads one to wonder the mechanism by which a friendship gave birth Miller's famous profession (via Twitter) of a man-crush on LeBron back in May.
(2) Mike Miller named his child after his friend's best friend/business manager, which is equally strange. This gesture suggests one of three possible types of intended closeness (a) a respectful distance--like, "Yo dawg don't worry, I'm not gonna name my son 'LeBron Miller,' but I will name him Maverick Miller," (b) sniveling brown-noser status, as in, "Hey LeBron, guess what cool I thing *I* did." (c) stalker-level fatal attraction obsessional closeness, as in, "If it was a girl, we were going to name it Gloria."
(3) Typically LeBron is not humorous. Here he deadpans a perfect "white people drive like this" joke, and just prior makes a crack about the Braylon Edwards situation, stating, "You guys haven't asked me before about any other trades in the NFL."
(4) LeBron's shoes are ugly as sin, and wearing someone else's shoes (EXCEPT JORDANS) is almost as bad as Iverson (or was it Sheed) wearing another team's throwback to the game, in the pre-dress-code days. Who else wears these in the NBA?
(5) Mike Miller is getting twice sonned here, once by DeShawn Stevenson for laying down the law, and once by Bron for seemingly giving Miller "permission" to wear the shoes.
(6) An MJ moment? Brown Recluse, Esq. wondered whether this is LeBron's take on MJ's famous, "Republicans buy shoes, too" aphorism, given that, in the Recluse's words, "most Republicans tend to be unathletic white people" (No Schwarzenego).
(7) STEREOTYPES ARE FUNNY. Even though LeBron's air-tight personal PR game slipped, in this instance, we like him all the more for it. This comment--small as it is--redeems something I've always loved about the NBA in particular (see John Kruk's "Lady, I'm not an athlete..." for the counter)--that athletic guys beat nonathletic guys in everything including cool points (no racial subtext), and they can joke about it and be technically racist but in a non-offensive way, and we chortle back and then a moment like this lights up the internet like fireworks on Guy Fawkes day.
BONUS SHOALS ACTION: An open letter to Ron Artest