By Joshua M Hicks (@jhicks042)
In an interview this week with TMZ, Kanye West stated that be believed LeBron James made a mistake in leaving Cleveland for Los Angeles this summer and stated his desire for James to stay with the Cavaliers and in Northeastern Ohio due to his influence in that community and his ability to continue making a huge impact off the court.
“I’mma just, it’s not my place … but just to make it Ye — I feel like LeBron really needs to be in Cleveland,” Kanye told Harvey Levin on TMZ Live Monday.
“And that ain’t my place, and I’m sorry, [Maverick Carter] and LeBron for saying, I know I’m speaking out of place. But, I feel like LeBron needs to be in Cleveland. Ye needs to be in Chicago. Big U needs to be in Crenshaw.”
James made it clear to reporters on media day with the Lakers that the change he made was made for basketball reasons, and Ye’s comments were made after he announced plans to move back home to his home of Chicago, with West making intentions to provide money and resources into the Chicago community, which he believes needs him.
I, myself was sad that the King left home for a second time, and have been vocal that he should’ve stayed home. Ye would have been within his right to offer another such opinion, but what gives him the right to try and compare himself to the King in regards to community efforts?
Any comparison between the two based in philanthropy and community awareness is far fetched, and we shouldn’t put James and Kanye anywhere in the same sentence regarding giving to those who need it.
Even though James has now left Ohio twice, he has never abandoned his hometown or the communities he grew up in. James came home and delivered the Cleveland’s first NBA championship, he has his own foundation, the LeBron James Foundation, and partnered with Akron Public Schools to create his recently opened I Promise School, a school targeting at-risk youth that gives perks such as free tuition, free uniforms, free bicycle and helmet, free transportation within two miles, free breakfast, lunch and snacks, food pantry for families, GED’s and job placement services for parents and guaranteed tuition to the University of Akron for every student who graduates.
According to sports economic research by AEI’s Daniel Shoeg and Stan Veuger, James’s presence (whether in Cleveland or Miami) increased the number of restaurants and bars within one mile of his team’s arena by 13 percent, they found, and increased employment at those establishments by 23.5 percent.
“We find that Mr. James has a statistically and economically significant positive effect on both the number of restaurants and other eating and drinking establishments near the stadium where he is based, and on aggregate employment at those establishments,” they said.
James’s UNINTERRUPTED media network has allowed athletes to be #MoreThanAnAthlete and speak on social justice issues. Among arguably the most socially active generation of athletes since the 1970s, James has become a beacon for activism, often times calling out the injustices of young black men being killed due to police brutality, supporting Colin Kaepernick’s protest, and not pulling punches in expressing his dislike of President Trump and his apparent schemes to use sports to promote racist ideas and divide the country.
Bron does not owe Cleveland any excuse in leaving a second time because he has already given back to the city and surrounding region more than anyone else ever has.
Kanye, on the other hand, has been a globe-hopper as his star has risen in music and fashion. West has often given credit to Chicago in helping shape him and acknowledges the city often in raps, but he long ago relocated to Hollywood to keep up with the Jones in his industry.
Eventually West married a woman who has come to exemplify modern Hollywood in Kim Kardashian, and in the time since has showed himself to not be the same guy he was in Chicago or even the same guy who orbited the city as he developed into a star. West’s self-imposed alienation from what’s rooted him has developed into full-blown betrayal in the wake of his publicized support for Trump.
Ye wants America to be great under Trump, but also claims his support for Kaepernick, a pair of stances that work against each other. He started controversy with his slavery comments, he has admitted to being in a sunken place and being diagnosed with mental illness issues in his most recent album, also called “Ye.”
Yes, he created a platform for philanthropic work by creating Donda’s House for local artists in 2013, but the reps of the non-profit organization have been at odds with Kanye overtime, including Chicago’s own Rhymefest, a former close collaborator with West who stated he has “abandoned” the youth in Chicago and the charity itself. Eventually the former Donda’s House re-established itself as “Art of Culture Inc.” without the support of West and his family.
Just because you may leave your hometown, does not mean you can’t consistently give back and make a big impact within that community. James left home, but has always taken care of his. ‘Ye left and we haven’t heard from him until now and the wait for him to do something of significance for Chicago is still on.
I hope Ye coming back to Chicago will be the start of the change many of us want to see in him as a person and as an artist. If he intends for it to be so he’d do well in following James’ blueprint to providing real aid to those who need it.
Joshua M. Hicks is the lead columnist of WARR