Actually, my headline’s not right. It’s hard to be sure since the New Yorker piece that contains the money quote is behind a reg wall, but I don’t think he’s taking a position on the case. He’s taking a position on people who took a position on the case without having heard both sides. The reporter apparently asked him about this photo specifically:
— LeBron James (@KingJames) March 23, 2012
To which Bryant replied:
“I won’t react to something just because I’m supposed to, because I’m an African-American,” he said. “That argument doesn’t make any sense to me. So we want to advance as a society and a culture, but, say, if something happens to an African-American we immediately come to his defense? Yet you want to talk about how far we’ve progressed as a society? Well, we’ve progressed as a society, then don’t jump to somebody’s defense just because they’re African-American. You sit and you listen to the facts just like you would in any other situation, right? So I won’t assert myself.”
Why would he accuse LeBron and the Heat of reacting before they’d heard all the facts? Because they reacted before they’d heard all the facts. Note the timestamp on the tweet: March 23, 2012 was less than a month after the shooting and several weeks before Zimmerman was even charged. The photo was taken well more than a year before he went to trial. To give you a sense of the climate of misinformation around the time James tweeted it, both NBC’s infamous audio edit that made Zimmerman’s 911 call sound racist and Spike Lee’s even more infamous (re)tweet that gave the wrong address for Zimmerman’s home happened during the same week. Bryant’s not saying that Zimmerman’s acquittal was the right verdict, he’s saying that it’s stupid to draw assumptions about hoodies, stereotyping, and justice until you’ve heard from both sides. Go figure that a guy who was himself once accused of a gravely serious offense is iffy about drawing conclusions of guilt based on incomplete facts. And for making this simple point, he will, of course, be destroyed online.
Via the Free Beacon, here’s a thoughtful rebuttal from a guy who’s never had a problem with leaping to conclusions in racially inflammatory criminal cases.