LeBron James was handling his usual postgame media duties when a question directed towards Dwyane Wade bothered him. Wade was asked about people remarking that he was playing dirty (as evidenced by the Rajon Rondo dislocated elbow play). LeBron was visibly bothered by the line of thinking and muttered under his breath, “that’s retarded.” The microphone below him caught his utterance, which you can see in this video:
Some folks have already began comparing LeBron’s utterance to Kobe Bryant’s use of a gay slur. They’ve even twisted the headline to make it appear more juicy by saying “LeBron James calls a reporter retarded.” That would be an enticing headline … if it were true.
Let’s break things down in the Court of Brown.
LeBron obviously was bothered by the suggestion that Wade was playing dirty, and thought that the suggestion was stupid. He used a politically incorrect word to describe the dirty accusation, but he never called the woman out. Kobe on the other hand directly called referee Bennie Adams and cussed him out personally.
The level of inflammation regarding Kobe’s word was much higher compared to LeBron’s. There’s also a big difference between calling someone out individually and muttering something to yourself. Using the word “retarded” should be taken seriously, but it has actual literal relevance here. Using the definition “limited in intellectual development,” the term retarded, while harsh, does have some application.
Judge Brown rules that this is an extremely minor offense by LeBron. He should apologize for his poor choice of words, saying that he should have used “stupid” instead. He should also try to avoid using similar potentially offensive language in the future and keep in mind how families with retarded members might be offended.Google+